James Arthur Photography

What's going to happen in Ghent?

The morning after the day before the situation in Ghent remained confused.  Liberal supremo Mathias De Clercq's hopes of landing the mayoralty of the East Flemish capital received a serious blow last night when it became clear that centre-right parties were unsure of a majority.  With all the votes now in it's clear no coalition can be constructed without the socialist/green alliance that performed badly. The mayor's door is still half open for Mr De Clercq after the socialists indicated that Mr De Clercq could still become mayor in alliance with them.

Because of the incident with a suspicious looking white powder that was in contact with ballot papers it took some time for all ballots to be counted. The last ballots made no difference to last night's result with the centre-right two seats short of a majority. In the poll the green/socialist cartel that governed Ghent together with the liberals received a serious blow with support dropping by 12%.  Still, the green/socialist alliance is the largest party by far picking up a third of the vote. As the greens did markedly better than the socialists, the greens will initiate coalition formation talks.

Mathias De Clercq's liberals performed well winning six seats.  Mr De Clercq then claimed the mayoralty.  The Christian democrats made an opening to a liberal, Flemish nationalist, Christian democrat coalition, but this has no majority.  It seems only a coalition of liberals and the red/green alliance will have enough seats to administer the city.  There was speculation that the red/green alliance could break up, but today this looks more like .wishful thinking by some.  Such a development could have ushered in a liberal/green/Flemish Christian democrat coalition.

But in Ghent the socialist/green alliance shows no signs of breaking up.  As the greens did far better than the socialist candidates, the greens intend to start up coalition talks.  However, the Christian democrats and liberals seem to have tied their lot together and have also unveiled plans to start forming an administration.  Hopefully there will be a meeting of minds.