There are many victors, but if one thing is clear, the socialists are the big losers. In the TV debate socialist leader Crombez spoke of a mixed picture. He pointed to progress in sixty municipalities, in Turnhout, in Hasselt. SP.A remains the biggest party in Leuven and Vilvoorde, but in Antwerp the result, after six years in opposition and the De Wever mayoralty, is disappointing to say the least. It's bad news in Ghent, in Tienen, Genk, Hasselt and Lommel. Bruges is lost. Mr Crombez's leadership could seem under threat, but fresh Flemish and federal elections in seven months are around the corner and finding a new leader who can take to the ground running may be too difficult.
If there are clear winners, Fabian says these are the far right Vlaams Belang and the ecologists of Groen. If this had been a vote for the Flemish Parliament the far right would have picked up ten seats. If the far right picked up votes, it failed in its bid to make inroads into the Flemish nationalist N-VA vote. In Antwerp Vlaams Belang could not advance above ten percent. However, Vlaams Belang didn't incur any losses. Nowhere. A national campaign with a focus on immigration could deliver a better score for the far right.
In Antwerp Groen doubled its vote. In Leuven the party also did well. In many municipalities the greens secured over one in five votes. In Antwerp the greens had their eyes on the mayoralty, but couldn't shift Mr De Wever.
In Mechelen and Kortrijk the liberals did well. In Ostend Mr Tommelein could become the new mayor. A liberal mayor could materialise in Ghent too. For the Christian democrats it was a good night too. The party manages to retain its dominant position in rural areas in West Flanders and Limburg, where the Flemish nationalists can't budge Christian democrat mayors.
The Flemish nationalists won't be disappointed either. Antwerp is N-VA yellow as are a string of municipalities surrounding the conurbation. National figures too performed well. If Sunday's election had been for the Flemish Parliament, the nationalists would have lost ten seats. Power would have shifted to the advantage of the liberals who would be needed to give the Flemish government a majority!