Large number of Poles taking part in local elections in Belgium

In Brussels, a dozen or so Poles are candidates in local elections that will take place on Sunday in Belgium. If they win seats, they want to work on behalf of a large group of nearly 150,000 Poles living in that country.

Polish candidates can also be found on electoral lists in many other cities in Belgium.

Artur Orzechowski, the Polish ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, is encouraging Poles to take part in the voting. "I've spoken with several mayors of the districts of Brussels and municipalities around the city, and it turns out that compared to previous elections, many more Poles have registered to take part in this year's elections. Poles are also beginning to be noticed by political parties. There are many Polish names on the election lists in Brussels," he said.

In his opinion, this shows just how many countrymen live in this country. "Nearly 150,000 people admit to Polish origin or citizenship. This is a significant group of people and, as a result, the Belgian parties want to have them in their ranks," he says. According to Orzechowski, this is a good prospect for the future, because the Poles who will become council members will be able to easily implement their ideas and take into account Polish interests.

"Unfortunately, a language problem still exists in Belgium. Poles do study the French and Dutch languages and speak with increased fluency, however, the Polish community consists mainly of people who came to Brussels after 2004 and they are the ones do not speak as well as the generations of immigrant families who were born in Belgium," Ewa Dolińska, a Polish candidate of the Schaerbeek district, points out.