Nearly six million Belgians went to the polls, Mar 26, to elect a new Chamber, Senate, and provincial assemblies.
Nearly six million Belgians went to the polls, Mar 26, to elect a new Chamber, Senate, and provincial assemblies. Compulsory voting - absentees are fined the equivalent of 71 shillings - got of to a slow start despite a massive last-minute appeal by the major parties; the Christian Socialists' warning against left-wing "totalitarianism", the Liberal call for solidarity of the middle classes, and the Socialist campaign against exploitation of the workers.
One of the most colourful groups of voters were the so-called Gilles at Binche, Peissant and Jemappes, in the Hainaut industrial province. The Gilles are a folklore group with a strong family tradition. They never leave the country and usually confine themselves to their home village, except for command performances called by the Sovereign. On election day they turned out in customary array.
Among the early voters in Brussels was Prince Albert of Liege, accompanied by his wife, Princess Paola, who has not yet qualified by residence as an electro. Another prominent voter - M.Spaak, the former Secretary-General of NATO.
This was Belgium's sixth post-war general election, the fourth in which women have had the vote. There are now all women to every vote 10 men in the electorate. First returns showed a drop in the Catholic Party vote, while there were gains by the Liberals and some of the splinter groups.