Belgian Political Parties 101

Six months to go before the Belgian communal elections on October 14. As the country gets more and more fired up for the big day, you’ll be greeted by the names and logos of Belgium’s major political parties everywhere, left and right and center. Time to get used to them. 

Belgium has a multi-party political system with parties rarely operating on a national level. Since the Belgians are divided into three linguistic communities, political formations are either French-speaking, Dutch-speaking, or German. French-speaking parties operate in the Francophone region of Wallonia while Dutch-speaking parties operate in the Flemish region of Flanders. In the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region, Flemish and Francophone parties are both represented.

To help you prepare for the communal elections this year, here’s a rundown of the usual suspects that run a campaign during elections in Belgium. Let’s see which ones match your political leanings. 

French-speaking Political Parties

Parti Socialiste (Socialist Party)

The political goal of PS is based on an aspiration to build a more just and humane society where collective interests are given more importance than individual interests. Center-left on the political spectrum, this social democratic party champions a strong system of social protection in which those who earn higher are expected to contribute more. In your commune, PS folks are the ones most likely to rally for higher commercial taxes. But they will also fight for efficient public social services. At present, PS is the largest Francophone political formation in Belgium.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 23 seats
  • Walloon Parliament: 30 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 21 seats
  • PS-dominated communes in Brussels Region: Anderlecht, Brussels City, Evere, Forest, Saint-Gilles, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode

Mouvement Réformateur (Reformist Movement)

As a conservative-liberal party, MR defends individual freedoms and reduced regulation for businesses. In the commune, MR members will be inclined to oppose higher taxes for citizens, especially for companies. The bottom line for this center-right party is that citizens should have the right to live their life as they see fit. The party also favors a united Belgium. MR was the largest French-speaking party in Belgium after the 2007 federal elections until PS regained the position in 2010.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 20 seats
  • Walloon Parliament: 25 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 18 seats
  • MR-dominated communes in Brussels Region: Ixelles, Etterbeek, Ganshoren, Koekelberg, Molenbeek, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Uccle

Centre démocrate Humaniste (Humanist  Democratic Center)

The cdH ideology is a combination of Christian-inspired humanism and centrist economic policies that favor state intervention. The party upholds the need for strong social security while ensuring certain freedoms for private enterprises. Like MR, cdH also calls for national unity in Belgium.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 9 seats
  • Walloon Parliament: 13 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 8 seats
  • cdH-dominated communes in Brussels-Capital Region: Jette, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe

Écologistes Confédérés pour l’organisation de luttes originales (Confederated ecologists for the organization of original struggles)

Ecolo members are the guardians and protectors of the environment and planet earth. The party rallies for the creation of ecologically sustainable societies based on a respect for all life. It also espouses the need for greater social justice and a more participatory democracy to make societies more capable of undertaking the challenges of supporting life and ensuring sustainability.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 6 seats
  • Walloon Parliament: 4 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 8 seats
  • Ecolo-dominated communes in Brussels: Watermael-Boitsfort


Démocrate, Fédéraliste, Indépendant (Democratic, Federalist, Independent)

Originally called Front Démocratique des Francophones (FDF), DéFI is a regionalist party fighting for the linguistic rights of French speakers in the Brussels region and its periphery. On the economic front, the party pursues a combination of liberal and social liberal policies. DéFI used to belong to the MR formation but left the alliance in 2011.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 2 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 12 seats
  • DéFI-dominated communes in Brussels: Auderghem, Schaerbeek, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert

Parti du Travail de Belgique/Partij van de Arbeid van België (Worker’s Party of Belgium)

The PTB-PVDA is a far-left political party that operates both in Flemish and Francophone territories as a single Belgian party.  It organizes the International Communist Seminar (ICS), a yearly gathering of communist parties held in Brussels.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 2 seats
  • Walloon Parliament: 2 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 4 seats
  • Brussels Communes with PTB-PVDA representation: Molenbeek, Schaerbeek

Parti populaire (People’s Party)

Taking up the right to extreme right corners of the French-speaking political scale, the PP denounces European integration and demands more sovereignty for states. It also pursues stricter controls on immigration and prioritizes the rights of Belgians over those of migrants in Belgium. The party promotes liberal economic policies, simplified governance, and justice system reforms.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 1 seat
  • Walloon Parliament: 1 seat
Which political party has the upper hand in your commune? (Map by VoteBrussels and Objectif)


Flemish Political Parties

Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (New Flemish Alliance)

The N-VA is a nationalist, conservative, and separatist political movement striving for an independent Flemish state. In economic policies, the party supports free market and free enterprise, but it favors traditional values and principles over individual freedom. Despite its hardline orientation, the New Flemish Alliance is still considered center-right in comparison to the far-right Vlaams Belang (VB) party. N-VA is currently the largest political formation in Flanders and in Belgium.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 33 seats
  • Flemish Parliament: 43 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 3 seats
  • Brussels Communes with N-VA representation: Anderlecht, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels City, Jette

Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (Christian Democratic and Flemish)

This centrist and pragmatic political party is a defender of Flemish cultural identity. It also promotes solidarity, reconciliation, cooperation, and other values inspired by the Christian tradition. On the economic level, CD&V is against strong free market economies. The party was traditionally the largest political formation in Belgium until N-VA took over.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 18 seats
  • Flemish Parliament: 27 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 2 seats
  • Brussels Communes with CD&V representation: Brussels City, Molenbeek

Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats)

Right of center on the political spectrum, Open Vld or VLD is a pro-European party supporting liberal, conservative-liberal, and social liberal polices. It opposes strict state intervention in favor of greater freedom and lower taxes for entrepreneurs and companies. VLD began as a right-wing party and eventually turned mainstream.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 14 seats
  • Flemish Parliament: 19 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 5 seats
  • Brussels Communes with Open Vld representation: Brussels City, Evere, Jette, Molenbeek, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre

Socialistische Partij Anders (Socialist Party Differently)

The Flemish counterpart of PS, sp.a is a social democratic party seeking a just society where wealth should be distributed as equally as possible. It works towards good social protection for all citizens whether employed or unemployed. It also argues for a government that imposes rigid laws requiring citizens to contribute, especially those from the higher income bracket. During elections, sp.a often runs in tandem with PS.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 13 seats
  • Flemish Parliament: 18 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 3 seats
  • Brussels Communes with sp.a representation: Anderlecht, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels  City, Ixelles, Jette, Molenbeek

Groen (Green)

Like its French-speaking brother party Ecolo, Groen runs a crusade for environment protection and sustainability. It promotes solidarity, social justice, progress, responsibility, and respect. Although separated linguistically, Groen and Ecolo maintain close ties with each other and usually join forces during elections.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 6 seats
  • Flemish Parliament: 10 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 3 seats
  • Brussels Communes with Groen representation: Anderlecht, Auderghem, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels City, Etterbeek, Evere, Forest, Jette, Koekelberg, Molenbeek, Saint-Josse, Uccle,

Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest)

VB is a right-wing, nationalist party which advocates independence for Flanders and more stringent laws against immigration. It was formed in 1954 under the name Vlaams Blok (Flemish Block) which was dissolved in 2004 after a court condemned it for being racist. The party later resurfaced as Vlaams Belang.

  • Chamber of Representatives: 3 seats
  • Flemish Parliament: 6 seats
  • Brussels Parliament: 1 seat
  • Brussels Communes with VB representation: Anderlecht