Belgium organizes local elections to designate municipal councils, apart from the federal and regional ones that elect one federal and regional parliaments and of course European elections in order to choose the Belgian representatives in the European Parliament. Don’t forget that there is an obligation to vote in Belgium, that is valid for all Belgians and also foreigners, if they have acquired the right to vote here.

Once registered for voting, you will receive an invitation by postal mail, that will explain where, how and when to present yourself for voting. Practically voting stations for all elections are organized on a local level in school buildings or other public administrations or buildings of publically funded organizations. Present yourself with your invitation and identity papers to the voting station.

Voting is secret and will happen on paper or via computer terminals. Results are generally available 24 hours following the vote.  You may only vote on one list: either you vote by marking a box at the top of the list (i.e. a list vote) or you vote by marking the box next to the name of one or more candidates (vote by name). So it is not possible to place both a list vote and a name vote for one or more candidates on the same list. If you vote on more than one list, your vote is in any case not valid.

Local Belgian elections take place every six years; European, federal and regional elections every five years. The next local elections will take place in 2018; the next European, federal and regional elections will normally take place in 2019.

Since the introduction of the concept of European citizenship by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, citizens of the European Union living in another member state have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament in their place of residence. They also have the right to stand for election on a European party list. The same applies for local elections. Despite the many information campaigns, the number of non-Belgian voters that use their right to vote in local elections remains limited. Many potential voters are frightened off by Belgium’s compulsory voting system.