Place Flagey, Matongé, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Ixelles Ponds, Place du Luxembourg… These are just some of the good old familiar places that come to mind when you think of Ixelles. The rich cultural flavors of these landmarks demonstrate the highly cosmopolitan nature of Ixelles and the whole Brussels region.
As of 2017, there are 86,244 people living in Ixelles accounting for seven percent of the total population of the Brussels-Capital Region. Of the 19 communes in the region, Ixelles lists the highest number of foreign residents belonging to more than 170 different nationalities. Nearly 50 percent of Ixelles’ population are non-Belgians with 36.8 percent coming from other countries in the European Union. The French are the most numerous in Ixelles, followed by the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Portuguese.
In the Brussels region, Ixelles is the only commune that is geographically scattered. Located south-east of the region, it occupies an area of 6.34 square kilometers divided into two parts by Avenue Louise which belongs to the Brussels City commune. The northeast of Ixelles runs through the districts of Matongé, Flagey-Malibran, and Ixelles Ponds, constituting the nucleus of the commune in terms of population density, and cultural and economic activities. Ixelles’ westside includes Rue du Bailli and the neighborhoods within the triangle of Châtelain and Brugmann-Lepoutre. The southern end encompasses the Boondael and university districts where the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and the Dutch-speaking Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) are located. This area is the main center of university life in Brussels.
More than 70 percent of residential buildings in Ixelles are occupied by tenants. In general, renting an apartment or buying a house in Ixelles is more expensive compared to average real estate costs in the Brussels-Capital Region. In 2013, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit in the commune was 788 euros compared to 732 euros in the region while the average price for buying a house was 268,100 euros compared to the regional cost of 224,800 euros. The massive influx of economically advantaged international workers increases real estate pressures on the entire commune.
Socio-economically, the population of Ixelles has a diverse profile combining households from the upper, middle, and lower classes. The average income of workers in the commune is close to the Brussels average monthly income of 3,972 euros. The education sector is one of the highest sources of employment due to the presence of the two major universities. Bustling commercial activities in Ixelles also provide plenty of job opportunities in the trade, business, transport, and hospitality sectors.
Ixelles is currently the stronghold of conservative-liberal political party Reformist Movement (MR), although it was governed by socialists from 2000 to 2016. For the past six years, members of MR, the Socialist Party (PS), Socialist Party Differently (sp.a), and DéFI (Democratic, Federalist, Independent) comprised the majority in Ixelles while the opposition was represented by Écolo and the Humanist Democratic Center (cdH).
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More than 200 projects were launched by the communal government in the past six years. Among them, programs to intensify security by increasing police visibility especially in critical areas like Matongé and Flagey, renovation projects in several neighborhoods, the adjustment of communal finances without raising taxes and lay-offs, the improvement of facilities and quality of education in various schools, and the creation of more daycare centers.
One of the major issues facing the commune concerns mobility in relation to the redevelopment of Chaussée d’Ixelles which began in May last year. The controversial project aims to transform the narrow and busy roadway into a zone especially reserved for pedestrians, bicycles, taxis, and buses. According to the plan, cars will no longer be allowed between Porte de Namur and Place Fernand Cocq from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m, Monday to Saturday, except for motor vehicles owned by residents who have a garage in the area. The project is foreseen to improve public transport circulation along Chaussée d’Ixelles, but it has earned the ire of car owners.
Aside from mobility issues, residents of Ixelles also complain about the overall lack of cleanliness in certain parts of the commune. The local government has put in place a number of new waste disposal and clean-up schemes, including a schedule for digital waste collection, the distribution of more portable ashtrays, and additional vehicles for garbage pick-up.
For the communal elections on October 14, 2018, there are so far five political groups vying for office in Ixelles. Under the mayor’s list or Liste de la Bourgmestre (LB), MR is running in coalition with several independent candidates while PS and sp.a are campaigning together. Ecolo will run as a single party, as will DéFI. Candidates from cdH together with other local representatives are campaigning under the label, Objectif XL.
Meet the head candidates of the political parties running in the 2018 communal elections in Ixelles: