We congratulate the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) on their successful performance in the 25 May elections, and reproduce their latest statement.
On 25 May, three elections took place in Belgium: for the federal, regional and European parliaments. The main winner turns out to be the Flemish nationalist party N-VA (rightist), obtaining more than 33 percent of the vote in Flanders. But there was also a major advance by the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB), which now enters both the federal parliament and the regional parliaments of Wallonia and Brussels.
Raoul Hedebouw, for the province of Liège, and Marco Van Hees, for Hainaut, have been elected to the federal parliament on the PTB-go! list. Raoul Hedebouw, the PTB’s spokesman stated that,
For the first time in 25 years, a new political family, genuinely leftist, and active in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, enters the federal and regional parliaments. We are sending two deputies to the federal parliament, two to the regional parliament of Wallonia and four to the Brussels parliament.
In Wallonia, the PTB-go! list received 5.81 percent of the votes (and in the province of Liège, 8.30 percent), making it the fifth political force in the South of Belgium. In Brussels, the list received 3.84 percent, and, thanks to a technical agreement with some small lists, the undemocratic threshold of 5 percent could be surpassed, giving the PTB-go! no less than four seats in the Brussels parliament.
In Flanders, the PTB waged an exemplary election campaign in a very difficult political context, with the dominance of the Flemish nationalist N-VA, the existence of the fascist party VB and the Green party in a comfortable situation of opposition.
In these conditions, and with the 5 percent threshold, unfortunately the PTB was not able to get its chairman, Peter Mertens, elected, although it got an honourable result of 4.52 percent in the province of Antwerp and 8,85 percent in the city of Antwerp, making it the fourth largest party there.
As regards the elections for the European parliament, the PTB-go! received 5,49 percent of the vote, largely insufficient to obtain a seat (Belgium has only 21 seats in the EP, to be divided over the different language groups).
On election evening, Peter Mertens told party militants gathered in Antwerp:
120 years ago, the first Belgian socialist, Edouard Anseele, who hailed from the Flemish city of Ghent, was elected in the Walloon city of Liège. Anseele spoke the language of the working class. Today, Raoul Hedebouw has been elected in Liège as well, and he will also speak the language of the entire working class.
We are a national party that cannot be divided — not by place of birth nor by the language spoken at the kitchen table. For us, what prevails is the social interest of the people, of all people in this country.
During this long election campaign, we have laid the foundations for a strong social current at the grassroots level, and we will absolutely need this in the years to come. Our commitment is to defend the interests of the working class, in all its diversity; of the youth, with all its dynamism; of the voiceless, of those whom this society considers as nothing but numbers; of all people who are going through difficult times.
Raoul Hedebouw, national spokesman of the PTB, echoed these words at the party meeting in Liège:
As member of parliament elected for a national party, I will also be the representative of the workers of Flanders, in Antwerp, Limburg and Ghent. And no, the votes for the PTB are not protest votes, they are votes of hope. Votes for a left that refuses austerity policies, that believes that we, the workers, will further build up self-confidence in order to be able to write the social history of this country.
We warn the traditional parties: if you plan to impose more austerity measures as is the case elsewhere in Europe, you will find yourselves confronted with the PTB deputies, as with the workers who want to stop these policies of budget cuts.
With these election results, and on the basis of an enthusiastic campaign, the PTB commits itself, in the words of its president Peter Mertens, to build, stone upon stone, a social future.