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Author Topic: Belgian Local Elections 2012  (Read 3099 times)
Insula Dei
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« on: January 18, 2012, 03:18:41 pm »
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On the 14th of October 2012 Belgians in all regions will go to the polls to elect:

-Municipal Councils
-Provincial Councils (which are elected by Canton)
-District Councils (in Antwerp)
-in some bilingual municipalities: Aldermen, OCMW/CPAS-councils (basically the social services) are directly elected.

Now these elections in normal years would be only moderately important, and would probably only have an effect in the way any unimportant secundary election that could be read as a referendum on the government has a bit of an effect on government confidence. This however is not true for the 2012 edition of these elections (at least not on the Flemish side, the francophone side is only going to be mildly interesting). There's a simple reason for this: the political reality which accompanied the last local elections in 2006 is no more, and the extent to which it's forever lost is going to be determined by these elections.

The most obvious change since 2006 is the new near-hegemony of the nationalist N-VA, who polled almost 28% of the Flemish vote in 2010 and who are currently sitting in the high 30s in polls. (For those who are new to Belgian politics, the party's performance at the last election before 2010 where they appeared independently was about 5%) There were only a handfull municipalities where the party did not top the poll in 2010, and as they're now riding a considerably higher wave, it's fair to say that the party on paper should be heading for yet another political tsunami.

Things don't work like that in local elections of course. Rural Flanders is the powerbase of the CD&V, which may appear to be a fallen collossus, but which also still controls many, many rural municipal councils. These municipal councils are the base of the party's strength as they effectively allow voters to be tied to it. (There's a strong dimension of clientism to the whole local politics game). If the CD&V can hold on to these councils, which in many ways serve as its roots, it is not in the sort of deep, existential trouble it would be in if the N-VA is able to take over its local institutional role. If the N-VA is able to take over in rural Flanders, it's probably here to stay and might well be the dominant political force of the next few decades.

Yet this is obviously not as simple a task as it would appear on paper. For starters the waters are going to be muddled by all sorts of small, middle-sized and large local parties and local coalitions between parties. (CD&V and N-VA rule together in an awfull lot of places). These consistently poll in at least as many votes as an average major party and will make it very difficult to establish on the 15th of October what the actual situation on the ground looks like.

Also, there's a quite large disconnect between the Federal/Regional level and the local level. Again, clientism plays a MAJOR role here. The local dominant party (which in some places may just as well be the SP.a or the VLD, even if those are much stronger in the cities)  does tend to outperform its national counterpart by a lot. So, there is a chance that the N-VA will strand on a disappointing performance and will only win its core nationalist voter base (which I'd estimate probably at around 10-15%). The most likely outcome is a mix of those two scenario's, with local party systems surviving the onslaught in some places, and being blown away by the N-VA wave in others.

Then, there's the cities. These are slightly less important from a long-term, strategic Point of View, but tactically they're the jewels that'll get all the attention on the evening. A disappointing Antwerp result in 2006 started the slow collapse of the VB, thus freeing up a large right-wing, nationalist voting base for the N-VA. The cities which will disproportionally affect the mainstream media narrative about the elections are in my opinion: Antwerp (!!!!!!!!!), Ghent, Bruges, Courtrai, Ypres, Louvain, Hasselt, and Ostend. In an ideal world (well, a nightmare world) the N-VA would also win a couple of these and the crown of crowns: Antwerp.

The Antwerp race is profoundly important as I'll try to explain in my next post. (probably tomorrow, but hey this is 8 months* away! Plenty of time for me to write way too much about this.)


*: Which doesn't mean the campaign isn't on yet, it mostly started this week and it will be one heck of a marathon for all those involved.
 
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2012, 11:40:52 am »
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Two bits of extremely good news (in terms of amusement value) today:

-Siegfried Bracke will head the N-VA list in Ghent. Bracke is a former VRT (Flemish Public TV and Radio)  journalist whose choice to be on an N-VA list in 2010 was one of the few joyful moments of that campaign. He is both an explicit freemason (véry un-Flemish) and a former member of the SP(.a), whose complete and utter opportunism make him an eternal candidate for the biggest joke in Belgian politics. Only last week he published an opinion piece which compared the (centrist) government to the communist party of Cuba. This from a guy who combined being among Flanders' most prominent journalists with publishing articles in the SP's party magazine back in the 1990s. I think this improves the SP.a's chance of hanging on to Ghent as Bracke might actually turn voters away from the party.

-Jean-Pierre van Rossem's back. The 'economist', F1 Team owner, and epic swindler and fraud spent much of the early '90s in parliament and most of the late '90s in jail. Now he's resurrected his party ROSSEM (he already promised he would do so as early as 2007, so we were waiting for this). Van Rossem is a self-proclaimed 'Libertine' and mighty amusing.

Also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89sbo0Slb6g (0:28 onwards)
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2012, 05:29:34 pm »
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Okay, I remembered this thread existed earlier today, and as the campaign now really seems to be starting to get underway, I thought I'd revive it a little.

This week-end saw both the N-VA and the VB kick off their campaigns. The N-VA realizes that its main challenge is translating national hegemony in local succes and is running a campaign that eschews local issues in favour of a virulently anti-Du Rupo national campaign with a big role for De Wever. This may well be a winning strategy, honestly. Especially since the PS seems to have realized that attacking the N-VA is a great way to keep their numbers artificially high in Wallonia.

The VB meanwhile will appearantly focus on attacking the N-VA from the left (!) on economical issues, and started of by criticizing the N-VA for its close ties to Employers' Organisation VOKA. The VB wouldn't be the VB if they didn't manage to bring this message in the most fascist possible way: Bruno Valkeniers raving about a 'third way between socialism and liberalism'. Still, this is the sort of thing that might give the N-VA some small trouble.

And the 'What's he going to do?'-game surrounding De Wever has kicked of as well. It's pretty obvious he will stop being N-VA leader in 2014 at the latest, but what he will do after that is a bit of a mystery. I used to assume that him being elected Antwerp mayor in 2012 would mean his exit from the national stage, but alternatively city hall might also prove to be an excellent launching pad towards bigger things. He could also sit out this year and try to get his first executive job as Flemish Minister-President (or even Prime Minister) in 2014. Today he said it 'wasn't unthinkable' for him to leave politics alltogether after 2014.

Also, I apologize for the lack of Wallonia/Brussels coverage I'm going to give. It's just that the Flemish half of the elections are very exciting. 
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 05:54:08 pm »

What are polls, local or not, looking like?
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2012, 06:15:51 pm »
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Last February La Libre/RTBF had this:

Wallonia:

PS     31.9
MR    18.1
cdH   15.2
Ecolo 12.4
---------5%------
FN      3.6
FDF    2.6
PTB+  2.6

Brussels:

PS      24.5
MR      19.3
Ecolo  12.7
FDF     11.5
cdH     9.6

Flanders:

N-VA   37.0
CD&V  14.3
sp.a    12.7
VLD     11.7
VB       11.1
GRN      6.8

In other words: more or less the same as it's been since Autumn 2010, but the PS and the N-VA losing a bit of steam. (Note that the N-VA still is up 10% on their 2010 showing).
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2012, 10:43:41 am »
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And De Wever is in: he'll be the number 1 on the Antwerp list for the N-VA. This is hardly unexpected, but still pretty crucial. Obviously interesting to see how this will affect his position within the party at-large (i.e. does he resign his position?)
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2012, 12:44:51 pm »
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2 polls for Antwerp this week-end, and they're worlds apart.

Het Laatste Nieuws:

N-VA: 42.9%
SP.a/CD&V: 25.4%
VB: 13.1%
Groen!: 10.3%
VLD: 5.5%

N-VA would have 26 out of 55 seats. Article also mentions 46.5% would like to see Bart De Wever (N-VA) as mayor, and that 'about half of all voters' approve of Patrick Janssens (SP.a) performance as incumbent.

Gazet van Antwerpen:

Weird poll that seems to have forgotten about the fact that SP.a and CD&V are going to form a cartel.

N-VA: 31.2%
SP.a: 26.1%
VB: 19.4%
Groen: 9.7%
VLD: 5.7%
CD&V: 4.3%

Preferred mayor:
Bart De Wever (N-VA): 32.5%
Patrick Janssen (SP.a): 32.9% (!)

Also notable is that if federal minister Annemie Turtelboom were to lead the VLD they'd poll about 15%.

Easy to guess which poll Patrick Janssen would like to believe.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 06:03:22 pm by Tussen Droom en Daad »Logged

Insula Dei
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2012, 06:20:32 pm »
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New national poll:

Flanders:

N-VA: 38.6% (+10.6)
SP.A: 14.2% (+1.5) oh well
CD&V: 13.6% (-0.7) lolfail
VB: 12% (+0.9)
VLD: 10% (-1.7%) lolfail
Grn!: 7%

Wallonia:

PS: 31% (-6.6)
MR: 19.6% (+1.5)
CDh: 14.6%
Ecolo: 11.4%

Brussels:

PS: 22.4%
MR: 20.5%
Ecolo: 12.9%
FDF: 11.6%
CDh: 10.1%

MoE: 3.3%

Looks like CD&V and VLD are screwed more than the SP.a. The VLD incidentally is seemingly on the brink of once more repositioning itself, though the designated direction this time seems to be the centre. Party leader Alexander De Croo spoke about the need for 'social justice' and heavily implied that people over 50 should have more job security on a congress this week.

Very brief history of PVV/VLD positioning 1980s to present:
Early 1980s: junior partner in right-wing 'Rooms-Blauw', solidly on the right.
Early Verhofstadt period: 'Baby Tatcher' era, radicalism of Verhofstadt scares SP and CVP in clinging together. In 1995 a victorious Verhofstadt will all the same not be included in government. (Which in 1999 will turn out to be a blessing a in disguise)
Troughout '90s: steadily more moderate, Verhofstadt's 'citizen's manifestoes'.
1999-2007: 'Paars': Socially progressive and economical moderate policies. The VLD as the natural succesor of the CVP as a broad people's party in the centre.
After 2007: Under Bart Somers' watch the party becomes more right-wing, but sticks (or tries to) to its image of a broad coalition.
After 2009: New generation (De Croo Jr., De Clercq Jr., Rutten) reinvents the party as a fiscally very right-wing party, 'True Blue' if you want.

Wonder whether another metamorphosis will work for them. I have to say that when people grow bored with De Wever De Croo seems like he has the capacities to last 1 or 2 years as our new great helmsman.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2012, 12:33:25 pm by Tussen Droom en Daad »Logged

Colbert
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2012, 07:12:48 am »
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welcome back to old mother france, wallonia ! :mrgreen:
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2012, 12:29:27 pm »
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Where has NVA's large increase came from?
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2012, 12:40:19 pm »
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Difficult to pin down precisely, but these things are playing a role for sure:

a) The continueing popularity of their leader, Bart De Wever.

b) Just about everyone for whom The Flemish Cause is a major issue now votes accordingly. This is a disaster for a party like the CD&V, which ever since 2001 had been working under the assumption that nationalist votes could be tied to the party without having to go trough the actually rather painful procedure of trying to appease them. In fact, one would be hard pressed not to blame the CD&V and its idiotic rhetoric in the early 2000s for the current explosion in the N-VA vote.

c) The N-VA is the only serious opposition party on the centre-right in Flanders.

d) The N-VA gets to play the 'victim card' over the way they were finally not included in the government.
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Insula Dei
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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2012, 09:14:30 am »
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Totally forgot this thread exist, (started it in February, too), but this is in less than 2 weeks now. Last week-end  VRT/HLN published a set of 5 polls of ‘urban centers’.  The results are quite interesting in places:

(Changes compared to  2006 are approximate, as I can’t be bothered to look up the exact decimal scores from back then, and I basically count CD&V/N-VA 2006 votes as CD&V votes and SP.a/SPIRIT 2006 votes as SP.a votes)

Kortrijk/Courtrai:

CD&V:     30.4% (-10)
SP.a:       19.1% (+1)
OVLD:      17.1% (-4)
N-VA:       14.7% (+14.7)
GRN :         9.1% (+3.5)
VB :            9.0%  (-5%)

Preferred Mayor :

Stefaan De Clerck (Incumbent - CD&V) :   35.4%
Vincent van Quickenborne (OVLD):   18.5%
Philip De Coenen (SP.a):    16.4%
Rudolf Schepereel (N-VA):    5.2%

Approval Rating:

Council: 66-13
Mayor: 55-19

Oostende:

SP.a:         40.3% (-5)
N-VA:        17.9%  (+17.9)
OVLD:        11.3% (-5)
GRN :          9.9% (+3.9)
CD&V :        9.5% (-4.6)
VB :             8.9% (-7.9)
LDD:            2.1% (+2.1)

Preferred mayor:

Jean Vandecasteele (Incumbent, SP.A): 43,1%
Bart Tommelein (OVLD): 12,5%
Wouter Devriendt (Grn): 7,7%
Björn Anseeuw (N-VA): 7,3%
Christian Verougstraete (VB): 4,5%
Krista Claeys (CD&V): 4,5%
Ignace Vandewalle (LDD): 2%

Approval Rating:

Council: 64-18
Mayor:  64-13

Mechelen/Malines:

VLD-GRN-M+:   30.9% (+0.1)
N-VA:               27.7% (+27.7)
SP.a:                16.7% (-3.3)
VB :                  13.6% (-12.9)
CD&V:                 9.9% (-10.4%)
PVDA+ :              1.3% (+0.7)

Preferred Mayor :

Bart Somers (Incumbent, vld-groen-m+) - 40,6%
Caroline Gennez (SP.A) - 18,7%
Marc Hendrickx (N-VA) - 12,9%
Frank Creyelman (Vlaams Belang) - 5,8%
Walter Schroons (CD&V) - 5,0%
Dirk Tuypens (PVDA) - 1,6%

Aalst/Alost:
N-VA:        25.3% (+25.3)
OVLD:       22.2% (+4)
SP.a:         18.9% (-1)
CD&V:       14.4% (-6.9)
VB:            12.2% (-10.6)
GRN:           5.9% (+1.2)

Preferred Mayor:

Ilse Uyttersprot  (Incumbent, CD&V):  24.9%
Ann Van Steen  (SP.a):   19.6%
Christophe D’Haese (N-VA):  14.5%
Jean-Jacques De Gucht (OVLD): 13.7%
Michel van Brempt (VB) :  5.2%
Andreas Verleyen (GRN) : 4.3%

Approval Rating :

Council :  49-23
Mayor :   46-25

Genk

CD&V :          34.8% (-10.8 )
Pro-Genk :     22.7% (-0.9)
N-VA :           19.6% (+19.6)
PVDA+:           8.6% (+3)
VB:                 7.8% (-8.8 )
OVLD:             6.3% (-2.2)

Preferred Mayor :

Wim Dries (Incumbent, CD&V): 46,7%
Joke Quintens (ProGenk): 12,1%
Harrie Dewitte (PVDA): 9,3%
Ann Baptist (N-VA): 8,4%
Luc Gieraerts (Open VLD): 4%
Chris Janssens (VB): 3,9%

Approval Ratings :

Council : 72-12
Mayor :  65-11


There is a lot that could be said about these polls (and quite an important thing to say is that they’re most likely not too trustworthy), but I’ll limit myself to just wondering aloud where, oh where all those N-VA voters are coming from, for now.  

Feel free to ask any questions!
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Armand Duval
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2012, 07:40:55 am »
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You're centering this on Flanders, but could you tell us a bit about Wallony as well ?

I encountered a group of people with flags of the "Mouvement de gauche" last Sunday in an anti-austerity demonstration in Paris, I looked it up and it seems like a Belgian emanation of Mélenchon's Parti de gauche. Do you have info on that ? Are they presenting any lists in the upcoming elections and what are their chances ?
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« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2012, 07:02:13 am »
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The 'Mouvement de Gauche' is pretty much the one-man party of a former Ecolo Member of the parliaments of the Walloon Region and the Francophone community (former Ecolo, not former parliamentarian). It's basically an attempt to use Melenchon's relative succes for political gain in Belgium. I'd be somewhat surprised if it was going anywhere, though it of course may be capable of getting some people elected to some councils.

The most credible party on 'the left of the left' in Belgium is the nation-wide PVDA+/PTB+ (Partij van de Arbeid+/Parti Travailliste Belge+). The '+' alludes to the presence of so-called 'extension' candidates on their lists; non-partisan sympathisers. The PTB tends to do best in what used to be Liege's Industrial Hearthland: Herstal, Waremme, the Borinage,... The PVDA has councillors in a handful of Flemish municipalities and most notably is the largest party in the East-Flemish Town of Zelzate.

Neither party however is present in parliament, despite quite a bit of growth in the past 5 or 6 years. I'd be surprised if either party were to make it into parliament any time soon, too. They tend to poll at about 2% or so in federal elections.
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« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2012, 09:20:51 am »
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What are the swing-councils to be watched in Wallony ? Any cities or big towns that may switch political sides and be emblematic of the election ?
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"F**k you Lion, I'm the King !" Mr Bear

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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2012, 08:51:44 am »
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What are the swing-councils to be watched in Wallony ? Any cities or big towns that may switch political sides and be emblematic of the election ?

I really know nowhere near enough about Wallonian local politics, but these are the ones I'd watch:

In Brussels:

Bruxelles: PS should remain the no. 1, especially since the MR candidate appears to be corrupt-ish.

Anderlecht: Was very close in both 2000 and 2006.

Molenbeek-Saint-Jean: Quite a close race on paper as well.

In Wallonia:

Namur: very close between CDH and PS last time round, but MR can't be entirely excluded either.

Charleroi: Interesting to see whether the PS will be able to restore itself a little after the 2006 debacle (-10 or 15%, if memory serves me)

Arlon: Featured an interesting PS-CDH battle last time round.

Also interesting to monitor the PS vote in the Liege area: Places like Herstal, Grace-Hollogne and so on should easily return PS majorities.

Mons: The Prime Minister's own city, and Di Rupo breaks with precedent by 'pulling' the list himself. I think it's not unreasonable to expect a 55-60% PS vote here.
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« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2012, 09:26:16 am »
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Results coming in. N-VA doing well, very well, in rural area's. First Antwerp results are neck-and-neck.

Flemish results:
http://www.deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws
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« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2012, 09:51:50 am »
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N-VA picking up quite a few mayors of relatively major cities right now (if they can cash in on their gains): largest party in St. Niklaas, Aalst, possibly Hasselt, ...

And Antwerp is N-VA 37% - Mayor's List 30% with a about 1 in 7 votes counted.
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« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2012, 02:51:47 pm »
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What a dramatic evening Sad

The only thing remotely vindicating it is the birth of what at first appears to be a viral video of an autotuned Bart De Wever (N-VA, mayor-elect of Antwerp) repeating 'stop that record', untill you realize that he is literally wanting his people to stop the record:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYi-RER8VJg

In 2014 when he opens his mouth again about a 'francophone tax government', I know what zinger I'm waiting for from his opponents.
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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2012, 05:08:17 pm »
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I feel sad about Antwerp Sad
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« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2012, 05:53:51 pm »
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I would love to see some more results - particularly in Wallonia
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« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2012, 02:40:11 am »
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I would love to see some more results - particularly in Wallonia
All results may be found here: http://www.lalibre.be/dossiers/elections2012/
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