2018 Communal Elections: Spotlight on Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
The most beautiful angle of Brussels
Every city, just like any other entity on earth, has its beautiful and dark sides. We’ve gone through some of the pleasant and unpleasant aspects of Brussels. Now we behold the best of her countenance.
Woluwe-Saint-Pierre is a stunning and elegant ultra-residential commune lying east of the Brussels-Capital Region. Not even cumbersome road works can disturb the loveliness of this commune which reclines over 8.9 square kilometers of land adorned with 180 hectares of greenery. The Woluwe Park, Mellaerts Ponds, and Parmentier Park are just a few of the natural treasures of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.
It is no wonder that more than 20 countries have chosen to establish their embassies within the harmonious landscape of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre. It is here that we also find the Stoclet Palace, an architectural masterpiece from the 20th century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Saint-Pierre Church, built in the 12th century and reconstructed in 1755, is another dazzling legacy of history found in the commune.
If median or per capita income were the only gauge of wealth, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre would come out as the richest commune in Brussels. Its middle class to extremely affluent inhabitants turn up a median income of €25,394, the highest in the entire region. Even the lowest per capita incomes in the commune still fall above the regional average. Among the 19 communes, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre also registers the lowest unemployment rate. Business services, education, and public administration are the commune’s major economic activities.
As of 2017, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre has 41,217 occupants of which more than one third are foreign nationals. The French constitute the largest non-Belgian community, followed by the Italians, the Germans, and the Spaniards. Like other prosperous communes in Brussels, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre has a very old population. The average age in the commune is close to 42 years old and nearly one-fifth of the population is aged 65 years and above.
Liberals and social liberals used to occupy the seat of power in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre. But Christian democrats took control of the commune after the last communal elections. Since then, the commune has been governed by a majority composed of the Humanist Democratic Center (cdH), the Democratic, Federalist, Independent party (DéFI), Ecolo-Groen, and local party Woluwe+. Liberals belonging to the Reformist Movement (MR) landed in the opposition, along with the Socialist Party (PS).
In the last six years, one of the priorities of the local government was to re-energize the commune and re-engage citizens by organizing community events such as the Christmas market in Place Dumon and the Apéros urbains. Several parts of the commune were also renovated, including the Joli-Bois district and Place Dumon. Security concerns were addressed by increasing police presence in public places and setting up an inter-neighborhood system of information-sharing. More than 2,500 solar panels were also installed in the commune.
In spite of the progress achieved in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, critics have lamented the lack of effort to improve services dedicated to the elderly. They also highlight the need to provide better facilities for persons with disabilities.
How will the next six years unfold for Brussels’ most beautiful commune? Will cdH extend its mandate after the communal elections on October 14? It’s in the hands of the Saint-Pierrois. So far, they have five formations to consider: the Liste du Bourgmestre (LB) or mayor’s list composed of cdH and independent candidates, the united front of MR and Open Vld (Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats), the Ecolo-Groen alliance, DéFI, and PS.