Belgium has no mood to vote

People in Belgium will first be heading to the polling booths for the Federal elections in May next year, but a few months later they will have to turn up again to cast their vote for the local elections.

In Flanders, however, many residents are anything but enthusiastic about the prospect: an opinion poll showed that 30% of voters in the region will ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ not go to the polling booth.

While the overall turnout is likely to fall sharply next October, the effect varies greatly from party to party.

The right-wing N-VA party can count on a motivated electorate, but the left-wing Worker’s Party (PVDA/PTB) will likely feel the biggest hit with 34% potential dropouts. The Flemish Christian-Democratic CD&V party is least affected, as just 17% of its voters say they will not or are unlikely to vote.

Behind this reluctance to vote lies a deep disillusionment with the political system. More than 80% of participants consider democracy a good way to govern a country, but only half believe that Belgium is currently governed democratically. One-third even indicated the opposite.

Among the far-right Vlaams Belang voters, and those loyal to the PVDA (two opposition parties in every government in Belgium) are especially convinced of this argument.

As many as 60% and 45% indicated, respectively, that they believe Belgium is not being governed democratically. And in that case, what good does voting still do?

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