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    In discussing the results of the Belgian local elections of 8 October 2006 the media devoted most attention to Antwerp. Not only because it is Flanders biggest city, but especially because of the remarkable result of mayor Patrick Janssens and his socialist party (Sp.a-Spirit). They won over 35% of the votes and became the biggest party of the city, a position that was taken by the extreme right party for more than ten years. In this article we tried to map and explain the so called ‘Janssens-effect’. By analysing the election results and the data of an (inter-university) Internet panel we managed to prove that Patrick Janssens had a large share in the victory of his party. A lot of citizens of Antwerp that normally would not vote for the socialist party supported Janssens. To explain this personal success we suggested four plausible motives: the perceived qualities of Janssens as a mayor; his presidential campaign; the attention of and performance in the media; and finally the statement against extreme right. Our panel data suggest that a combination of these motives can explain the Janssens-effect. The appreciation for Janssens as a very capable mayor was present among the electorate long before the campaign started. This appreciation became the basis for his electoral success. The fact that many voters decided to switch to Janssens in the months and weeks before the election is related to his campaign and the media-attention it generated. The media strengthened the image of Antwerp as a polarised city. Especially the voters that changed their vote intention during the campaign were convinced that supporting Janssens was the most explicit signal against the extreme right image of their city.


Peter Van Aelst
Peter Van Aelst is postdoctoraal assistent politieke wetenschappen en lid van de onderzoeksgroep ‘Media, Middenveld en Politiek’ (M2P) aan de Universiteit Antwerpen. Hij doctoreerde over de rol van de media tijdens de verkiezingscampagne van 2003 en publiceerde eerder in diverse tijdschriften over protestgedrag, nieuwe media, en agenda-setting.

Michiel Nuytemans
Michiel Nuytemans is onderzoeker aan het departement Politieke Wetenschappen en lid van de onderzoeksgroep ‘Media, Middenveld en Politiek’ (M2P) aan de Universiteit Antwerpen. Hij doet onderzoek naar agendasetting, verkiezingen en de relatie tussen media en politiek.
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