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Flemish Socialist Party

Socialistische Partij Anders
PresidentConner Rousseau [nl]
Preceded byBelgian Socialist Party
HeadquartersGrasmarkt 105/37,
Youth wingYoung Socialists
Membership (2014)Decrease 49,703[1][2]
IdeologySocial democracy[3]
Political positionCentre-left[4]
European affiliationParty of European Socialists
International affiliationProgressive Alliance
European Parliament groupProgressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Francophone counterpartSocialist Party
Colours  Red
Chamber of Representatives
(Flemish seats)
(Flemish seats)
Flemish Parliament
Brussels Parliament
(Flemish seats)
European Parliament
(Flemish seats)
Flemish Provincial Councils

The Flemish Socialist Party[5][6][7] (Dutch: Socialistische Partij Anders, sp.a;[a]lit. 'Socialist Party Differently'), soon to be renamed to Forward (Dutch: Vooruit),[8] is a Flemish social-democratic political party in Belgium.[3][9][10][11][12]

The party emerged from the Belgian Socialist Party linguistic and community split in 1978 which also produced the Socialist Party. The Belgian Socialist Party was itself formed by former members of the Belgian Labour Party. The party was known until 2001 as the Socialist Party (Dutch: Socialistische Partij, SP).

From December 2011 to September 2014, sp.a was part of the Di Rupo Government, along with its Francophone counterpart Socialist Party. In 2020, it re-entered federal government in the De Croo Government. Sp.a has been part of the Flemish Government several times.




Since 1978

The party was the big winner in the 2003 election, running on the SP.A-Spirit joint list (cartel) with the social-liberal party Spirit. Their share of the vote went up from 9% (of the total Belgian vote) to almost 15%, a second place in the number of votes. The main victim of this resurgence was the Green! party (formerly known as Agalev). Sp.a was part of the "purple" federal coalitions of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt from 12 July 1999 until 10 June 2007, which contained both the Flemish and Francophone liberal and social-democratic parties.

In 2004, the sp.a along with its partner Spirit lost the elections for the Flemish Parliament. Although they won more seats in comparison to the Flemish elections of 1999, their percentage of the vote compared to the successful 2003 federal elections was considerably down. The reputation of then party leader Steve Stevaert took a beating too.

The party was briefly led by Caroline Gennez, after former president Steve Stevaert left to become governor of Limburg. Johan Vande Lanotte, who served as Minister of the Budget in the federal Government, was elected President and resigned as minister to become President on 17 October 2005. He resigned 11 June 2007, after sp.a-Spirit lost the elections for the federal parliament of 10 June 2007.[13] In these federal elections, the cartel won 14 out of 150 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 4 out of 40 seats in the Senate. Afterwards, Caroline Gennez was elected President by the party members.

As of May 2009, sp.a was in opposition in federal politics. Unlike its Francophone counterpart, the Socialist Party (PS), sp.a was not a participant in the Leterme II Government.

In January 2009, the party had apparently changed its name to Socialists and Progressive Differently (Dutch: Socialisten en Progressieven Anders). This name change was retracted and the party baseline was changed from Social Progressive Alternative (Dutch: Sociaal Progressief Alternatief) to Socialists and Progressive Differently (Dutch: Socialisten en Progressieven Anders).[14]

In the 2010 federal election, sp.a won 13 seats with 9% of the overall vote. The party was a member of the Di Rupo Government formed on 6 December 2011, until the elections in 2014. In the elections for the Chamber of Representatives on 25 May 2014, sp.a scored again 9% and received 13 seats, in contrast to their francophone Socialist Party counterparts, who lost 3 seats and whose share of the vote decreased by 2%. In the Flemish Parliament, sp.a have 18 representatives, deriving from around 14% of the vote--this is a small reduction on the 2009 parliament, where sp.a had 19 seats, deriving from 15% of the popular vote. From 2009-2014, sp.a participated in the Flemish Government, in an uneasy coalition with the CD & V and the N-VA. From 2014 onwards, sp.a formed part of the opposition in Flanders, as the regional government reflected the Flemish component of the federal administration, consisting of coalition of the Open-VLD, CD & V and the N-VA.

In January 2018, the party advocated for a "new socialism" and a "new equality".[15][16]

In September 2020, party leader Conner Rousseau announced a renaming of the party to "Vooruit" (Forwards).[8]


Presidents of the SP[17]
Period President
1978-1989 Karel Van Miert
1989-1994 Frank Vandenbroucke
1994-1998 Louis Tobback
1998-1999 Fred Erdman
1999-2001 Patrick Janssens
Presidents of the sp.a[17]
Period President Vice-President
2001-2003 Patrick Janssens
2003-2005 Steve Stevaert Caroline Gennez
2005 Caroline Gennez (ad interim) N/A
2005-2007 Johan Vande Lanotte Caroline Gennez
2007-2011 Caroline Gennez Dirk Van der Maelen
2011-2015 Bruno Tobback Joke Quintens
2015-2019 John Crombez Stephanie Van Houtven
2019-present Conner Rousseau [nl] Funda Oru

Members holding notable public offices

European politics

European Parliament
Name Committees
Kathleen Van Brempt Industry, Research and Energy

Federal politics

Type Name Notes
Co-opted Senator Bert Anciaux Faction leader
Community Senator Rob Beenders Replacing Ingrid Lieten, who left politics
Community Senator Katia Segers
Community Senator Güler Turan
Community Senator Bart Van Malderen

Regional politics

Flemish Parliament
Name Notes Name Notes Name Notes
Limburg (Belgium) Rob Beenders Community Senator Antwerp (province) Jan Bertels East Flanders Kurt De Loor
Antwerp (province) Caroline Gennez West Flanders Michèle Hostekint Brussels Yamila Idrissi
Antwerp (province) Yasmine Kherbache West Flanders Renaat Landuyt Mayor of Bruges Limburg (Belgium) Bert Moyaers Replaced Ingrid Lieten, who left politics}}
Limburg (Belgium) Els Robeyns Flemish Brabant Katia Segers Community Senator West Flanders Tine Soens
Flemish Brabant Bruno Tobback Antwerp (province) Güler Turan Community Senator East Flanders Freya Van den Bossche
East Flanders Bart Van Malderen Community Senator West Flanders Steve Vandenberghe Replaced John Crombez, who left parliament when he became party leader East Flanders Joris Vandenbroucke Faction leader replacing Daniël Termont, who decided not to combine his mandate as mayor of Ghent with a mandate as parliamentarian
Brussels Regional Government Vervoort I
Public Office Name Function
Minister Pascal Smet Transport and public works
Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region
Name Notes
Fouad Ahidar
Elke Roux
Jef Van Damme Replaced Pascal Smet, who became minister in the Brussels Regional government

Provincial politics

Provincial Council
Province Percentage Seats
Antwerp Antwerp 12,80%
Limburg Limburg 20,10%°
East Flanders East Flanders 12,70%
Flemish Brabant Flemish Brabant 12,10%
West Flanders West Flanders 15,80%

° In Limburg sp.a formed a cartel with Groen.

Election results

Federal Parliament

The main six Flemish political parties and their results for the Chamber of Representatives from 1978 to 2014 in percentages for the complete kingdom
Chamber of Representatives (Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers)
Election year No. of overall votes % of overall vote % of language group vote No. of overall seats won No. of language group seats won +/- Government
1981 744,593 12.4
In opposition
1985 882,200 14.6
Increase 6 In opposition
1987 915,432 14.9
Steady 0 In coalition
1991 737,976 12.0
Decrease 4 In coalition
1995 762,444 12.6
Decrease 8 In coalition
1999 593,372 9.5
Decrease 6 In coalition
2003* 979,750 14.9 24.9
Increase 9 In coalition
2007 684,390 10.3 16.3
Decrease 9 In opposition
2010 602,867 9.24 14.6
Decrease 1 In coalition
2014 595,190 8.85 14.04
Steady 0 In opposition
2019 455,034 6.71
Decrease 4 In coalition
Senate (Senaat)
Election year No. of overall votes % of overall vote % of language group vote No. of overall seats won No. of language group seats won +/-
1981 732,126 12.3 13
1985 868,624 14.5 16 Increase 3
1987 896,294 14.7 17 Increase 1
1991 730,274 11.9 14 Decrease 3
1995 792,941 13.2
Decrease 8
1999 550,657 8.9
Decrease 2
2003* 1,013,560 15.5 24.9 (1st)
Increase 3
2007 665,342 10.0 16.2
Decrease 3
2010 613,079 9.5 15.3
Steady 0

Regional parliaments

Brussels Parliament

Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region (Parlement van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest)
Election year No. of overall votes % of overall vote % of language group vote No. of overall seats won No. of language group seats won +/- Government
1995 9,987 2.4
1999 13,223 3.1
Steady 0
In cartel with Agalev
2004 11,052 17.7 (3rd)
Increase 1 In coalition
In cartel with Spirit
2009 10,085 19.5 (2nd)
Increase 1 In opposition
2014 10,450 19.54 (2nd)
Decrease 1 In opposition

Flemish Parliament

Flemish Parliament (Vlaams Parlement)
Election year No. of overall votes % of overall vote % of language group vote No. of overall seats won No. of language group seats won +/- Government
1995 733,703 19.45 (3rd)
In coalition
1999 582,419 15.00 (4th)
Decrease 6 In coalition
2004 799,325 19.66 (4th)
Increase 3 In coalition
In cartel with Spirit; 25 seats won by SP.A/Spirit
2009 627,852 15.27 (3rd)
Decrease 3 In coalition
2014 587,903 13.99 (4th)
Decrease 1 In opposition

European Parliament

European Parliament (Europees Parlement)
Election year No. of overall votes % of overall vote % of electoral college vote No. of overall seats won No. of electoral college seats won +/-
1979 698,889 12.84 20.90
1984 979,702 17.12 28.13
Increase 1
1989 733,242 12.43 20.04
Decrease 1
1994 651,371 10.92 17.63
1999 550,237 8.84 14.21
Decrease 1
2004 716,317 11.04 17.83
Increase 1
In cartel with Spirit
2009 539,393 8.22 13.23
Decrease 1
2014 555,354 8.33 13.18
Decrease 1



  1. ^ Dutch pronunciation: [so:?a:'l?stis? p?r't?i? '?nd?rs]


  1. ^ "Open VLD heeft de meeste leden en steekt CD&V voorbij". deredactie.be. 30 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Open Vld telt meeste leden". De Morgen. 30 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b Nordsieck, Wolfram (2019). "Flanders/Belgium". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ Josep M. Colomer (2008). Comparative European Politics. Taylor & Francis. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-203-94609-1.
  5. ^ "sp.a - the Flemish Socialist Party". sp.a. Archived from the original on 23 September 2009. Retrieved 2021.
  6. ^ "Conner Rousseau is the new leader of the Flemish Socialist Party". VRT NWS. 8 November 2019. Retrieved 2021.
  7. ^ Von der Burchard, Hans (21 May 2018). "Belgian socialist party circulates 'deep fake' Donald Trump video". Politico. Retrieved 2021.
  8. ^ a b Arnoudt, Rik (9 September 2020). "SP.A verandert binnenkort van naam en gaat "Vooruit" heten". VRT NWS (in Dutch). Retrieved 2021.
  9. ^ Hans Slomp (2011). Europe, A Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO. p. 465. ISBN 978-0-313-39182-8.
  10. ^ Dimitri Almeida (2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0.
  11. ^ Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko; Matti Mälkiä (2007). Encyclopedia of Digital Government. Idea Group Inc (IGI). p. 397. ISBN 978-1-59140-790-4.
  12. ^ Cas Mudde; Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser (2012). Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat Or Corrective for Democracy?. Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-107-02385-7.
  13. ^ "Vande Lanotte gooit handdoek in de ring" (in Dutch). VRT. 11 June 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  14. ^ Naam van sp.a verandert niet, begeleidende slogan wel Archived 20 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine ("Sp.a name doesn't change, baseline does"), GvA, 17 January 2009
  15. ^ "Le sp.a pour un "nouveau socialisme" et de "nouvelles égalités" (in French). RTBF. 21 January 2018. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ "Le sp.a pour un "nouveau socialisme". Le Vif/L'Express (in French). 21 January 2018. Retrieved 2020.
  17. ^ a b "sp.a partijvoorzitters". Tijdslijn.s-p-a.be. Archived from the original on 9 October 2009. Retrieved 2010.

Further reading

External links

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