Belgian Labour Party

Belgian Labour Party

The Belgian Labour Party, called Belgische Werkliedenpartij (BWP) in Dutch (English translation: Belgian Workers' Party) and Parti Ouvrier Belge (POB) in French, was the first socialist party in Belgium, founded in 1885.


In April 1885, a meeting of 112 workers took place in a room of the café "De Zwaan" on the Grand Place in Brussels, at the same place where the First International had convened, and where Karl Marx had written the Communist Manifesto. At this meeting the Belgian Labour Party (POB or BWP) was created. Several groups had been represented at this meeting, among which also the BSP of Edward Anseele. The members were mainly craftsmen and not workers from industrial centres (with the exception of Ghent). When drafting a programme for the new party, it was feared that a radical programme would deter workers. On that basis it was decided that the word socialism would not be mentioned in the name of the party, a point of view which was also defended by Cesar De Paepe (1841-1890). Before 1919, the district system at Belgian elections made it almost impossible for the Labour Party to get parliamentary seats in Flanders, and the Ghent socialist leader, Edward Anseele, was elected from Liège. After 1919, universal male suffrage and proportional representation greatly enhanced the party's parliamentary strength and it participated in several governments.

After the second world war, most of the BWP/POB officials joined to found the Belgian Socialist Party.

Notable members

* Camille Huysmans
* Henri De Man
* Paul-Henri Spaak, one of the Founding fathers of the European Union
* Emile Vandervelde
* August Vermeylen

ee also

* Politics of Belgium
* Progressive Party (Belgium)
* Christene Volkspartij


* [ Inleiding tot de geschiedenis van de Belgische arbeidersbeweging]
* [ First Program of the BWP]
* Th. Luykx and M. Platel, Politieke geschiedenis van België, 2 vol., Kluwer, 1985
* E. Witte, J. Craeybeckx en A. Meynen, Politieke geschiedenis van België, Standaard, 1997

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