Workers' Party of Belgium

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Workers' Party of Belgium
Leader Peter Mertens
Founded 1979
Headquarters M.Lemonnierlaan 171, 1000 Brussels
Youth wing COMAC
Ideology Marxism-Leninism[1][2]
Socialism
Political position Far-left[2]
International affiliation International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties, International Communist Seminar
European affiliation None
Colours Red
Chamber of Representatives
2 / 150
Senate
0 / 60
Walloon Parliament
2 / 75
Brussels Parliament
4 / 89
European Parliament
0 / 21
Website
www.pvda.be (Dutch)
www.ptb.be (French)

The Workers' Party of Belgium (Dutch: Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDA, French: Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB) is a Marxist[3] political party in Belgium. It is one of the few parties that operates as a single Belgian party. Most other parties are either Flemish or Francophone.

The PVDA-PTB hosts the International Communist Seminar, which in recent years has become one of the main worldwide gatherings of communist parties.

History[edit]

The Workers' Party of Belgium originated in the student movement at the end of the 1960s. Radicalized students (organized in the student union SVB - Studenten VakBeweging), mainly from the Catholic University of Leuven, turned towards the working-class movement. They considered the politics of the existing Communist Party of Belgium revisionist, i.e. too much turned toward social-democratic politics (represented in Belgium by the Belgian Socialist Party). They were influenced by the ideas of the Communist Party of China, guerrilla movements in Latin America, the movement against the Vietnam War, and the Leuven-Vlaams movement, all perceived as aspects of a worldwide struggle against colonial or neo-colonial oppression and for civil or workers' rights.

Their support and participation in an important strike in the coalmines turned the movement into a political party. They founded a periodical, AMADA (Alle Macht Aan De Arbeiders - All Power To The Workers), which became the first name of their party. In 1979 the first congress was held, which adopted a Maoist programme and changed the name into PVDA-PTB. Ludo Martens became the first president, and remained an important ideologist of the party until his death in 2011.

Recent developments

Following its electoral defeat in 2003, the PVDA-PTB fundamentally changed its working methods and communication. On one hand, the PVDA-PTB said it would refocus on working with factory workers as well as on field work in the communities where it operates. On the other hand, the PVDA-PTB said it would officially break with what it calls its sectarian past to get closer to the concrete demands of citizens. This is reflected particularly by the demands put forward on very concrete issues, e.g. lower prices for medication, the reduction of VAT on energy products from 21% to 6%, an increase of the minimum pension, better control of rents or the lower cost of trash bags.

In preparation for the Belgian elections of June 2007, the Solidarity newspaper and the website of the party were merged in order to reach a wider public. The structures have also been "open" to a broader layer of activists.

On March 2, 2008, the work of the Eighth Congress of the PVDA-PTB was completed with a closing meeting at the Free University of Brussels. This Congress was conducted with the theme of "party renewal." A new Central Committee was elected, which in turn elected a new Bureau of the Party. It consists of:

  • Peter Mertens, °1969. President
  • Lydia Neufcourt, °1955. Responsible for expanding the party
  • Raoul Hedebouw, °1977. National voice of the PVDA-PTB
  • Jef Bruynseels, °1949. Head of union relations
  • Jo Cottenier, °1947. Responsible for the socio-economic issues
  • Baudouin Deckers, °1946. Head of International Relations.
  • Tom Demeester, °1975. Energy.
  • David Pestieau, °1969. Editor of Solidarity.
Workers Party of Belgium propaganda in Brussels, 2008

This 'shift' seems to have produced some positive results, such as a slight increase in membership and a rebound (albeit moderate) of the electoral score of the PVDA-PTB in recent elections. The last elections in October 2012 showed more progress: with 8% in Antwerp and results in 20 city-councils (Brussels, Liège...). There has also been an increase in media coverage of the party.

In November 2012 the party had more than 5600 members. Its weekly publication "Solidarity / Solidarity" has between 3,000 and 5,000 subscribers. COMAC, its youth movement, is active in all the universities in Belgium and in secondary schools (in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels). The PVDA-PTB is also known for its 11 Medicine for the people medical centres,[4] which provide free access to primary health care, and the two progressive law firms of the Progress Lawyers Network.

The PVDA-PTB, the newspaper Solidarity, and Medicine for the People organize "Manifiesta", a yearly festival of solidarity between the communities and the left in Belgium. The first edition was held in Bredene (by the sea) on 25 September 2010 and brought together 6,000 people from both North and South of Belgium. The second edition attracted 7,500, and the third 8,000 people.[5]

Electoral results[edit]

In the municipal elections of 2012 the PVDA-PTB won the best score in Zelzate, where it obtained 22.01% of the vote and 6 out of 23 seats in the municipal council. The party was also represented in 19 other municipalities or city districts (up from 7 in 2006): in the city of Antwerp with the city districts of Antwerp, Berchem, Borgerhout, Deurne, Hoboken, Merksem amd Wilrijk, within the capital region of Brussels the municipalities of Schaarbeek and Sint-Jans-Molenbeek and the cities of Mons, Charleroi, Flémalle, Genk, Herstal, La Louvière, Lommel, Liège and Seraing.

The general elections of 2007 saw the party obtaining 0.88% in the Flemish electoral district and 0.81% in Wallonia.

In the regional elections in 2009 the PVDA-PTB gained 1.04% of the vote in Flanders (+0.48%) and 1.24% of the vote in Wallonia (+0.62%). For the European elections on the same day the results were: 0.98% in the Dutch-speaking electoral college (+0.37%) and 1.16% in the French-speaking electoral college (+0.35%).

In the general elections of June 2010 the party saw further growth. In Flanders it now represents 1.3% (+0.4%) of the votes for the Chamber of Representatives and 1.4% (+0.5%) for the Senate. Especially in the cities progress was noted with high scores in Antwerp (4.1%) and Liège (4.2%). The highest scores were gained in the cantons of Herstal (9.8%), Assenede (7.5%) and Seraing (7.3%); all places where the PVDA-PTB traditionally is strong.

The municipal and provincial elections in 2012 were considered a breakthrough on a local level for the PVDA-PTB. The party won 52 seats in total; 31 in municipal councils, 4 in provincial councils, and 17 in the district councils.

The federal and regional elections in 2014 saw further success for the party. They successfully elected two deputies to the Chamber of Representatives,[6] two others to the Walloon Parliament,[7] and finally four to the Brussels Parliament[8]

Federal Parliament[edit]

Chamber of Representatives (Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers/Chambre des Représentants/Abgeordnetenkammer)
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
1991 30,491 0.5
0 / 212
in extraparliamentary opposition
1995 34,247
0 / 150
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
1999 30,930
0 / 150
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
2003 20,825 0.2
0 / 150
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
2007 56,167 0.8
0 / 150
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
2010 101,088 1.6
0 / 150
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
2014 251,289 3.72
2 / 150
Increase 2 in opposition
Senate (Senaat/Sénat/Senat)
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
2003 18,699 0.1
0 / 40
in extraparliamentary opposition
2007 54,807 0.8
0 / 40
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
2010 105,060 1.6
0 / 40
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition

Regional parliaments[edit]

Brussels Parliament[edit]

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
2004 2,221 0.6
0 / 89
in extraparliamentary opposition
2009 4,038 0.9
0 / 89
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
2014 15,782 3.86
4 / 89
Increase 4 in opposition

Flemish Parliament[edit]

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
2004 22,874 0.6
0 / 124
in extraparliamentary opposition
2009 42,849 1.04
0 / 124
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
2014 106,114 2.53
0 / 124
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition

Walloon Parliament[edit]

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/– Government
2004 12,216 0.6
0 / 75
in extraparliamentary opposition
2009 24,875 1.24
0 / 75
Steady 0 in extraparliamentary opposition
2014 117,500 5.75
2 / 75
Increase 2 in opposition

European Parliament[edit]

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
 % of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/–
1984 43,637 0.76
0 / 24
1989 29,778 0.50
0 / 24
Steady 0
1994 59,270 0.99
0 / 25
Steady 0
1999[9] 22,038 0.35
0 / 25
Steady 0
2004 44,452 0.7
0 / 24
Steady 0
2009 68,540 1.04
0 / 22
Steady 0
2014 234,718 3.51
0 / 22
Steady 0

Elected politicians[edit]

Provincial councilors

  • 2012 – 2018:
  1. Liège (province) Marcel Bergen
  2. Antwerp (province) Kris Merckx
  3. Antwerp (province) Nicole Naert
  4. Liège (province) Rafik Rassâa

Federal deputies

  • 2014 – 2019:
  1. Raoul Hedebouw
  2. Marco Van Hees

Regional deputies

  • 2014 – 2019:
  • Brussels
  1. Michaël Verbauwhede
  2. Mathilde El Bakri
  3. Youssef Handichi
  4. Claire Geraets
  • Wallonia
  1. Frédéric Gillot
  2. Rudy Warnier

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]