Resilient cities

The Mechelen model: An inclusive city

Fecha de publicación:
Bart Somers, Mayor of Mechelen

Lately the “Mechelen Model” has gathered a lot of attention. That’s why I feel it’s important to stress that my city Mechelen is not a paradise. It’s a city of 86,000 inhabitants, located between Antwerp and Brussels. We’ve grown in our superdiversity, with more than 130 different nationalities living together in our city. Strikingly, one out of two children born here has a foreign background, most of them Moroccan. The latter being one of the most vulnerable groups to violent radicalisation. Fifteen years ago Mechelen had a very bad reputation. Polarisation was high and over 30% of the people voted extreme right. We had one of the highest criminality rates at that time, middle class families fled the city and deprivation was high. Nowadays, Mechelen is considered as one of the reference point cities in Flanders. The appreciation for the integration policy is one of the highest in the country and the extreme right has less than 8% of the votes. The overall culture has changed and there is a growing openness towards each other.