Socialists and liberals to form new coalition in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek

Just over 2 weeks since the municipal elections that saw the outgoing coalition of liberals, Christian democrats and greens lose its majority, the socialist and liberals in the Brussels municipality of Sint-Jans-Molenbeek have announced that they will govern the municipality for next six years. 

The announcement was made at a joint conference given by the current Mayor Françoise Schepmans (Francophone liberal, photo below) and the woman that will succeed her from 1 December Catherine Moureaux (Francophone socialist, photo above ). With 30 of the 45 seats on the council, the new coalition made up of Francophone and Flemish liberals and socialists will have a large majority. Two of the nine Aldermen will be Flemings. 

Catherine Moureaux follows in the footsteps of her father who was Mayor of Molenbeek for 20 years between 1992 and 2012. On the night of the elections that saw her socialist list win 17 seats out of 45, Ms Moureaux stated that she wished to form a progressive coalition with the far-left PTB*PVDA that were the big winners increasing their tally of seats from 1 to 7.  The Francophone greens were also invited to take part in the coalition talks. However, the issue of good governance remained a bone of contention between Ms Moureaux’s socialists and PTB*PVDA and the greens.  The talks broke down last week.

There had been talk of a four-party coalition made up of the socialists (17 seats), the Christian democrats, the greens (both three seats) and the Francophone federalists (1 seat). 

However, at Monday’s press conference both Ms Moureaux and Ms Scheppmans said that the choice had been made for a coalition that “will bring stability to Molenbeek”.

Ms Schepmans added that although she will have to step down as Mayor she does so “without any negative feelings”. She added that it was a good thing that the far-left PTB*PVDA is not part of the new municipal coalition as “It is a party that frightens a lot of people. We can now reassure people”.    

Ms Moureaux spoke of a “coalition of change”. There will be greater transparency and the municipality will appoint an ombudsman.