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Greens make historic gains in Belgium local elections

Virginie Lefour / belga / AFP | Ecolo-Groen co-presidents Zakia Khattabi and Patrick Dupriez (archives).

The Greens and other smaller parties hammered traditional political heavyweights in local elections Sunday in Belgium, in what has been billed as a rehearsal for next year’s federal and European elections.

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In Brussels, the Green party Ecolo-Groen made a breakthrough in the local ballot, finishing first and second in a number of local councils.

Overall, the party led by Zakia Khattabi and Patrick Dupriez, finished first in four Brussels Region districts, including the EU district of Ixelles, and won up to 29 percent of the vote in other districts.

These results could lead the party to having a number of mayors in the Brussels region, where they currently only have one, in Watermael-Boitsfort.

The election’s other big winner in the Belgian capital was the leftwing Workers Party (PTB/PvdA), especially in the city’s former industrial districts.

The pro-sharia Islam Party lost its seat in Brussels's Molenbeek district, winning less than 2 percent of the vote.

In Flanders, the Greens also made gains, although the separatist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) -- which advocates for the separation between French-speaking Wallonia and the Flemish Flanders -- maintained its leadership there.

The ruling socialists remained dominant in French-speaking Wallonia but they were challenged by the rising PTB/PvdA in a number of local town halls.

Commentators say these elections are a mirror for the national, regional and European elections to be held in Belgium in May.

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