Court decides electoral registration office ban was illegal
Last week, socialistworld.net reported on attempts in Belgium to ban LSP/MAS, the Belgian affiliate of the cwi, from standing in the European elections in the French speaking part of the country. The electoral registration office in Wallonia decided to reject the signatures smaller parties had collected to legally stand in the forthcoming European elections.
The authority’s main legal argument was that people did not know which candidates they were endorsing when they signed the election papers of parties like MAS. But the same arguments could be used to prevent the main parties from taking part in the elections. Nobody knows who is running on the lists before they register nor is there any democratic control over the wheeling and dealing between the traditional parties once elections have taken place.
Parties hit by this managed democracy were the PTB (Parti du Travail de Belgique), a Maoist party), RWF (Rassemblement Wallonie Bruxelles) a party which wants Wallonia to break from Belgium and unify with France, CDF (Chrétiens démocrates francophones) a split from the Christian Democrats, and two fascist parties, the FN (Front National), and FNB (Front National de Belgique).
However, at an appeal hearing last Thursday, and after an intensive campaign, this decision was overturned. This means that for the first time in the history of the MAS (Mouvement pour une Alternative Socialiste), the party will be able to contest these elections on its own ticket and programme. For the first time, the electorate in the whole of Wallonia, the French speaking region, will be able to vote for the MAS socialist alternative.
According to Belgian law, parties – in order to be able to contest elections – either need the signature of 5 members of the parliament or have to collect 5,000 signatures from people who are entitled to vote. This applies in the Dutch speaking area of Belgium, as well as the French speaking part.
Members of LSP/MAS succeeded in collecting 13.000 signatures, in total. In Flanders, the registration office accepted the signatures. In the Walloon area the registration office did not accept the signatures, even though the electoral laws are the same on both sides of the language border. The MAS, together with all the other parties affected by the ban, except, of course, the fascists affected, took legal action against this decision.
The hearing began at 14.00 hrs on Thursday 22 April. It took more than 6 hours for the judges to reach the only lawfull and logical decision possible. All the lists of the smaller parties were accepted.
The LSP/MAS is fighting these elections on a socialist platform. The party is building a working class alternative to the policies of the ruling class, a left opposition to neo-liberalism. The most important goal in these elections will be to use the campaign to build the influence of socialist ideas across Belgium.