Belgium Nearer to the Brink

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Yesterday, apart from the European elections, Belgium also held elections for the regional parliaments in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of the country, and Wallonia, the French-speaking southern half.
 
These elections highlighted the fact that Flanders and Wallonia are two different nations. While the left won in Wallonia, it was crushed in Flanders.
 
In the Walloon Parliament (75 seats) the leftist green party Ecolo won 14 seats (+11), the Parti Socialiste (PS) remained the biggest with 30 seats (-4), the liberal-conservative Mouvement Reformateur received 18 seats (-2), the centrist christian-democrat CDH won 13 seats (-1) and the Front National lost its 4 seats. The greatest surprise was that the PS was only marginally affected by the tsunami of corruption and other scandals (even one involving child pornography) in which it has been entangled.

 
In the Flemish Parliament (124 seats), however, the picture is entirely different. The Socialists dropped to 19 seats (-6), the leftist Liberals to 21 seats (-4). The biggest party are the Christian-Democrats with 31 seats (-4). The Greens won 7 seats (+1). The Flemish-nationalist Vlaams Belang (VB), which advocates the independence of Flanders dropped to 21 seats (-11), but two other parties, also explicitly in favour of Flemish independence, made a major break-through: the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), which won 16 seats (+16), and the liberal-conservative LDD party, which won 8 seats (+8).
 
As the three parties that favour Flemish secession from Belgium gained 45 seats, it will be very difficult to form a Flemish government without at least one of them. Combined the pro-secessionist parties have obtained more than 36% of the Flemish vote, while many Christian-Democrats also want larger Flemish autonomy and propose transforming Belgium from a federal into a confederal state.
 
The VB, meanwhile, feels it has been unfairly treated during the election campaign. The mainstream media, which all receive government subsidies, refused to run VB adds and hardly devoted any attention to Belgium’s main opposition party. In the past, parties were assigned broadcasting time to run a short informative television spot of their own on the state television channel. These programs, too, were abolished for this year’s campaign. A journalist openly admitted: “In these broadcasts, Filip Dewinter could openly express his political views. This was sufficient reason to ban these broadcasts.”
 
Especially during the election campaign the Belgian media devoted as little attention as they could to the VB. Last April, Prof. Bart Maddens of Leuven University published figures about the 2007 election campaign period. He calculated how many times the newspapers mentioned the candidates of the major parties and found that an average Socialist candidate was mentioned 25 times, a Liberal 23 times, a Christian-Democrat 22 times, a Green candidate 7.2 times and a VB candidate 6.9 times.
 
Though the VB represented almost a quarter of the Flemings in the previous parliament, its politicians received only 7.3% of the attention of the papers during the campaign. Prof. Maddens said the VB was the victim of a “cordon médiatique” (a deliberate media exclusion). He concluded that “the competitive disadvantage” resulting from the media boycott of the VB “should not be underestimated.”
 
While the situation in the written press is bad, it is even worse on radio and television. The Belgian state television VRT is set on damaging the right and promoting the left. Recent official government figures confirmed that VB received only 1.5% of the television time devoted to politicians in 2006-07, despite its 24.3% of the votes in the 2004 elections. By comparison, the Socialist politicians received 43.8% of the media’s political time, despite their 19.9% of the votes.

"Peoples get the leaders they deserve"

Uwe Hayek, you're spot on. I agree entirely with that view. And allow me to add what Burke said: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".

@ Natalie: I guess it was a rhetorical question, but still, let's ask ourselves, precisely who needs state-controlled media? Simple. The State does!

@Natalie

No, you cannot buy that television.

It is not because you are blond, but because it is not a television,

it is a microwave oven.

Uwe Hayek.

NVA ? PATHETIC !

It stuns me completely why anyone would vote Nva.

 

Peoples get the leaders they deserve and the dumbest people on Earth get the dumbest leaders on Earth, no matter what the names of the game shows are they appear in.

 

Did you notice, Nataraja, that in rat-tifying the Lisbon Treaty, our democracy and constitution ceased to exist?

 

It is now the NON-elected European Commission that decides on every law in every European country that rat-tified.  The European "parliament" has no legislative power whatsoever.

The Irish took considerable effort to explain this.
Warning! It is not a game show, it takes more than a minute of attention span, and you could get smart, unintenionally.
Wise Up Journal

And which was the ONLY party that realised this in Flanders, the only one that voted AGAINST this COUP d'ETAT ?

Here we go again !

Uwe Hayek.

conservative?

Nataraja appears to be implying that the N-VA qualifies as a conservative party. Does it? I think not. The party is in favor of further European integration and transferring more of our sovereignty to the EU establishment. While occasionally criticizing multicultural society and correctly blaming Socialism for the excesses, it also continuously denies the Islamist threat and even makes fun out of the VB for making statements about Islamization. It is also not as socially conservative as some people think. So far I have never heard the N-VA clearly opposing LGBT rights, gay marriage, feminist excesses, abortion, euthanasia and so on. In short, postmodern decadence. For a party to qualify as conservative, it would have to be pro-life (among other things). Support for 'strong families' (which includes same-sex marriages for N-VA) is meaningless, since even the socially ultraliberal VLD claims to support that. A conservative believes that only traditional families make strong families as well as strong individuals. In my view, the N-VA is a single-issue party that will always need to kiss up to the traditional parties for support. It might make a good choice for people who dislike the VB's pro-Israel stance but I would guess that even those voters will soon have to realize that the VB is the one unchanging and principled constant which is truly defending traditional Western values and national identity in the face of the EU-adoring, Islam-apologetic crowd. Lest anyone forget, the party is still the second largest in Flanders, and it is larger than the Socialist Party. Thank goodness for that.

@ pale rider

No I did not mean to imply that N-VA is a conservative party and if , for the sake of this discussion, Conservatism should be defined by the 4-5 characteristics you describe, then the answer is no, N-VA as a party can not be labelled conservative.
Even though I think most of the views you mention can in different scales be found amongst N-VA or their coalition partners CD&V, their political stands cannot be drawn along such lines as a whole.

RE: @ pale rider

Thanks for the reply. I am glad you are willing to admit that the N-VA is not a conservative party. It does, however, qualify as a nationalist party to me. Conservatism is determined by a lot more than the points I mentioned earlier. My views are to some degree found among members of N-VA, CD&V and others, yes, but to a far lesser degree. It certainly does not make those individuals qualify as political conservatives. To expand upon why I don't think of the N-VA as a conservative party, here are a few points of disagreement.

The N-VA's political manifesto favors Flemish pacifism in foreign policy, it favors a strong European Union, it opposes any form of discrimination. There is also no defense for traditional values whatsoever, in fact the party supports state-owned daycare centers for children instead of encouraging an environment where mothers and fathers can take up their traditional roles. When I read their program, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that it will never reverse such things as same-sex marriage and adoption, it will not tackle Islam's growing presence, and it will not lead to a leaner and limited government that sticks to its basic functions. Economy-wise, we can expect more government interference and subsidies instead of economic freedom. In matters of criminality, it favors 'efficiency' and prevention rather than tougher law enforcement. That's not a conservative Law and Order point of view.

This is why, in a nutshell, I believe the N-VA has nothing to offer a person like myself. IMHO, it would be a vote for more of the same old managerial statism we have today, albeit with a Flemish and nationalist flavor.

Best regards.

Here we go again

Once again, Paul Belien shows in this article that Brusselsjournal is not primarily the Voice of Conservatism in Europe which he claims it to be, but simply a propaganda machine for the Vlaamsbelang.

While Belien oddly enough has the urge to present the role of the media as the reason for the disastrous results (even Filip Dewinter himself had other explanations on offer), one cannot help wondering: how come the VB managed to grow steadily in previous elections then while they were equally absent and ignored in public media? Was VB ever dependent on mainstream media to express their views? Was there ever a large scale platform for VB in the election shows etc. on public TV? 
VB previously managed to grow with the occasional participation of their leadership in key debates, which this time didnt look any different.

Off course, Beliens analysis fits in perfectly in the chronic self-victimization that VB needs to legitimate themselves. But maybe the Flemish voters are simply starting to have enough of this?

It would add some dignity to this analysis if at least Belien would mention that the rise of strong Flemish nationalist players like NV-A and anti-establishment LDD are the main reason why many people stop voting for VB.

Moreover, I strongly suspect that voters finally start to realize, and are getting tired of the shallow one-sidedness, the sloganesque simplicity, and the incapability to really transcend the extreme edge that VB still drags along its path.

I suspect this website in the end facing the same fate if the pathological need to defend, legitimate, and propagate the VB outside the borders of Belgium doesn't get tuned down a bit.

Greetings from a very satisfied NV-A voter

    

 

@ Nataraja

Pathological hatred for the VB seems to be the reason for the existence of N-VA.
One tiny lttle question: N-VA minister Bourgeois was the Flemish minister in charge of, amongst other things, the so called "Flemish" state radio and television channel for years. Approx. one year ago he left that job and the blood red socialist anti-Flemish radio-and television station was still as anti-Flemish and blood red as before and still didn't give air time to the VB. Why do you think that was the result of years of N-VA control??? N-VA will go the way of the Volksunie, though I think that Bart De Wever is smarter than Schiltz, he still will make the same mistakes.Don't worry, you won't have to wait long for the results. They will go along with the CD&V "with death in their hearts" and for "the good of the Flemish people in times of crisis".
Good Luck Flanders.

flemish socialism will become even more pro-islamic

I think that the defeat of the flemish socialists will have a perverse influence on them: they will be even more pro-islam and pro-multicultural as before as a reaction to a hostile population that rejects them more and more.

This excellent article

This excellent article certainly makes clear how important is to privatize government-controlled tv in Belgium and elsewhere whenever this is politically possible. A free press (in the wider sense of "press") exists only where it is widely dispersed in private hands.

Meanwhile, how much do we need to be concerned about the rise of Green parties in Belgium, France, and elsewhere in Europe?