The recent communal elections in Brussels managed to make and break some records. Let’s recall some of the most striking developments that came out of this history-making event.
1. Belgium welcomes its very first black mayor
Pierre Kompany, father of Belgian Red Devils star player Vincent Kompany, becomes the very first black mayor in the history of Belgium following his party’s victory in the Brussels commune of Ganshoren. The newly-elected mayor was born in the city of Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1947. He came to Belgium as a refugee in 1975 and acquired Belgian citizenship in 1982.
After joining the Humanist Democratic Center (cdH), Kompany was elected to the council of Ganshoren in 2006 and appointed alderman for public works, mobility, and environment. He was re-elected in 2012 under the party ProGanshoren composed of cdH, the Christian Democratic and Flemish party (CD&V), and independent candidates.
With ProGanshoren’s triumph in last Sunday’s elections, Kompany unseats Robert Genard of the Reformist Movement (MR). His ground-breaking election also places Ganshoren on the map. One of Brussels lesser-known communes, Ganshoren will now be remembered as the first Belgian commune to elect a mayor of African origin.
2. Record number of women elected
339 female candidates won a seat in the Brussels region. They now make up 48.8% of elected officials, a considerable leap from 41.5% in 2012 and 42.2% in 2006. Auderghem has the highest number of women elected or 20 out of 31 seats while Saint-Josse-ten-Noode has the fewest with only 10 women out of 29 elected officials. Women are the majority in the communes of Auderghem, Ganshoren, Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, Uccle, Watermael-Boitsfort, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.
3. First time Brussels has 4 mayors of non-Belgian origin
A big salute to diversity in Brussels. Aside from Pierre Kompany, three other politicians are on the roster of Brussels mayors with foreign roots. Koekelberg’s new mayor, Ahmed Laaouej, comes from a Moroccan family. Newly-elected Ixelles mayor Christos Doulkeridis descends from a line of Pontic Greeks. Re-elected mayor of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode Emir Kir was born to Turkish immigrants.
4. Greens’ historic rise to the top
Ecolo-Groen achieved several milestones this year. First, there are now three Brussels communes with mayors coming from the green alliance: Ixelles, Forest, and Watermael-Boitsfort.
In Ixelles, Ecolo-Groen finally leaves the minority and becomes the leading party with head candidate Doulkeridis replacing MR’s Dominique Dufourny. Stéphane Roberti dethrones Socialist Party’s Marc-Jean Ghyssels in Forest while Olivier Deleuze gets another term as bourgmestre of Watermael-Boitsfort. The green party also penetrates the majority for the first time in several communes including Anderlecht, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels City, Koekelberg, and Uccle.
Overall, Ecolo-Groen showed a significant increase in votes compared to the last elections, earning more seats in all Brussels communes except Molenbeek where Ecolo and Groen ran as separate parties.
5. A breakthrough for the red party
Aside from the greens, the reds also proved to be a formidable presence in the October 14 elections. From only two elected members in 2012, PTB*PVDA (Workers’ Party of Belgium) now has 36 councillors in seven communes. The left-wing party makes its first entrance in several communes including Anderlecht, Forest, and Saint-Gilles. And if negotiations with the Socialist Party pan out, PTB*PVDA may even join the majority in Molenbeek.
6. Major defeat for the liberals
The Reformist Movement (MR) takes its place among the biggest losers of the Brussels communal elections. The liberals will have to relinquish their position of power in four out of six communes following the defeat of Françoise Schepmans in Molenbeek, Philippe Pivin in Koekelberg, Dufourny in Ixelles, and Genard in Ganshoren. Only Vincent de Wolf of Etterbeek and Boris Dilliès of Uccle are returning as mayors.
7. Socialists get the highest number of mayors in the Brussels region
In 2012, PS and MR both had six mayors each in the Brussels region. This year, PS tops the list with seven mayors: Eric Tomas in Anderlecht, Philippe Close in Brussels City, Rudy Vervoort in Evere, Ahmed Laaouej in Koekelberg, Catherine Moureaux in Molenbeek, Charles Picqué in Saint-Gilles, and Emir Kir in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. Moureaux is also the only remaining female mayor in Brussels after the exit of Dufourny in Ixelles. MR drops to two mayors after losing in four communes. Four other mayors come from cdH, three from DéFI, and three from Ecolo-Groen.
8. A big boost in the number of non-Belgian voters and candidates
Although it’s not an outcome of the elections, it’s worth mentioning that out of 285,413 eligible non-Belgian voters in the Brussels region, close to 50,000 registered to vote in last Sunday’s elections. In 2012, only 34,172 non-Belgians registered for the communal elections in Brussels. Tireless media campaigns such as VoteBrussels made a huge difference in getting more non-Belgians to participate in the elections this year.
More than 300 EU citizens also joined the communal race with 25 getting elected mostly in Ixelles, Etterbeek, Saint-Gilles, Uccle, and Molenbeek. Most of them belong to Ecolo-Groen and MR.