Belgium: Ethnic minorities underrepresented in elections

Belgium: Ethnic minorities underrepresented in elections

Seventy-four or 6.7% of the 1,104 candidates standing in Flanders in the 13 June general election come from the ethnic minorities. The figure is much lower than the share of the population as a whole that has foreign roots.

21.6% of Belgians have a foreign background.

Sociologist Jan Hertogen has analysed the figures. In order to qualify for the ethnic label candidates require at least one foreign grandparent.

The highest proportion of ethnic candidates is standing for the far left PVDA+ (18.1%). 11.6% of socialist candidates have foreign roots, while the figure for the ecologist Groen! is 8.7%. For the liberals, Christian democrats and Flemish nationalists the figure is 3.6%, while only 1.4% of candidates for the far right Vlaams Belang have foreign roots.

Mr Hertogen believes that parties are missing a chance here. Putting up ethnic candidates can boost results.

The sociologist told VRT News that ethnic candidates are not exactly the flavour of the month. He points to the Christian democrat list of candidates for the Senate that hasn't got a single member of the ethnic minorities on it.



In other election news, former parliament member Cemal Cavdarli was recently placed third on the East-Flemish list of Lijst Dedecker (LDD, conservatives). The Ghent resident was until recently a member of the SP.A (socialists). He felt he was being pushed aside in that party.

Not an obvious move, since the ideas of the LDD and SP.A. are far apart. "I realize that too, but I believe that I can remain true to my principles at Lijst Dedecker," says Cemal Cavdarli. "I'm a social and I'm a democrat, but I've never literally been a socialist. I've been asking myself for a while if I'm really still welcome by the SP.A. By supporters also began to ask questions."

This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog -

When it became clear that there was no visible place for him on the SP.A. list, he moved to LDD.

The Ghent imam and religion teacher last stood for elections in the federal elections in 2007. He wasn't voted in on the senate list.

In 2005, then a Belgian parliament member, he went to Turkey to do his army duty there.

Sources: Flanders News (English), Nieuwsblad (Dutch)

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