Of all the Belgian political parties, the N-VA and the PVDA-PTB spent the most last year on publicity, propaganda and assemblies, followed by the Vlaams Belang.
With 3.918 million euros spent in 2021 on advertising, propaganda and assemblies, the N-VA is the undisputed number one in this field, show the annual party accounts published by the Chamber. the PVDA-PTBwhich spent 3.166 million on this item last year, ranks number two. And at the third placewe find the Vlaams Belangwith 1.586 million spent in this area.
15 million spent on advertising
On the side of French-speaking partiesin 2021, only two saw their expenditure on advertising, propaganda and the like exceed the million mark: this is the case of MRwith 1.289 million, andEco, with 1.191 million. The PS is content with a modest 457,000 euros, the cdH (which has since become Les Engagés) with 259,000 euros and Challenge with 93,000 euros.
In total, the Belgian parties declare for 15.1 million euros in advertising expenditure in 2021. An amount in clear progression, since it barely reached 12.3 million the previous year. The Vlaams Belang is going against the current, with a drop in its expenditure in this area of nearly 790,000 euros.
A significant part of this advertising expenditure is made via Facebook: according to AdLens, Belgian political parties spent 4.7 million there in 2021.
Note that a significant part of this spending is done through ads on Facebook. According to AdLens, a collective that brings together activists, journalists, researchers and data analysts, Belgian political parties have spent 4.7 million euros in ads on Facebook in 2021. This is slightly less than in 2020, when the total amount reached almost 4.9 million. And if on Facebook too, the Vlaams Belang has reduced its advertising expenditure, other parties such as the N-VA, Groen or the Open VLD have clearly increased it.
75 million euros in grants
The importance of the amounts devoted to communication is not not necessarily in line with public endowment from which each party benefits – grants which represent nearly three-quarters of party resources. If the N-VA receives the largest allocation, namely 10.988 million euros in 2021, the PS ranks, in fact, number two in this area with 8.61 million. Vlaams Belang follows in third place with 8.07 million. Then come MR (7.108 million), CD&V (6.529 million) then Open VLD (5.988 million).
In total, the Belgian political parties are divided for just over 75 million euros endowments in 2021, compared to 73.5 million in 2020. This system was put in place in the wake of the Agusta-Dassault affairs: corporate donations to political parties were prohibited, and in compensation, it was decided to offer them a public grant, based on electoral results.
However, the system remains criticized, and the agreement reached during the formation of the De Croo government plans to reform it, “in particular by strengthening transparency and control of revenue and expenditure”. However, nothing has yet changed in this area, except that it has been decided to reduce the allocations granted to parties by 1.11% in 2022.
A very modest decrease, which in practice, should simply curb the increase, since party grants will continue to rise thanks to automatic indexation. Speaking of indexation, not everyone is in the same boat, since some parties, especially Vooruit and the PVDA-PTB, have particularly high personnel costs: they represent 60% or more of the amount of their endowment. Conversely, at Vlaams Belgang, staff costs amount to only 3.5% of the amount of the endowment.
A capital gain of 4.3 million for the ex-cdH
Another lesson from this 2021 batch: Belgian political parties have never been so rich. All together they display a balance sheet total of nearly 178 million euros, against barely 152 million in 2020. A much greater increase than that of their total debt, which rose from 20.2 million in 2020 to 24 million in 2021. The most notable change is that of the former cdH (Les Engagés), which saw its equity increase from 1.799 million at the end of 2020 to 5.945 million at the end of 2021 following a real estate capital gain of more than 4.3 million following the resale of its headquarters, rue des Deux Eglises. Note also the particular case of Vooruit, which is the only Belgian political party to close the year 2021 with a negative consolidated result of -1.4 million euros.
Almost all parties are strengthening their liquidity, with 2024, the year of all elections, in focus.
Note again that all parties or almost strengthen their liquiditywith 2024, the year of all the elections, in sight: their total cash investments have increased from 56.1 to 66.4 million, and their available values from 31.2 to 43 million.