BHV existed as an anomaly in the Belgian system: an electoral constituency that was not formed by a province’s boundaries – it included the Brussels Region and part of Flemish Brabant – and which was bilingual. The changes that will follow the split are many, but the main effect will be twofold.
Voters in the two resulting electoral districts – the Flemish Halle-Vilvoorde and the bilingual Brussels – will have no choice of whether to vote in one or the other. That means French-speakers in the periphery of Brussels (part of Halle-Vilvoorde) will find their votes swamped by the Flemish majority. French-speaking parties may present a list, but they are unlikely now to gather enough votes to be elected.
Those in the six facility municipalities, on the other hand, will be able to choose between voting in Halle-Vilvoorde and in Brussels. That would allow French-speakers to vote for French-speaking Brussels parties, but they would essentially have no local representative. The Flemish in Brussels have the opposite problem. Estimates vary, but the Dutch-speaking population in the capital is certainly under 10%. Until now, they were able to have their own votes bolstered by the Flemish population of Halle-Vilvoorde so Dutch-speaking representatives could be elected easily – among them Steven Vanackere, now federal finance minister. But that is not likely any longer to be the case.
Last week Vanackere posted a photo of himself leading members of his staff across a pedestrian crossing in front of Brussels’ Royal Palace. His staff are standing individually in October’s municipal elections. Vanackere is not. He is thought to be considering a move to Flemish Brabant, where he stands a chance of being re-elected in the next federal elections.