Flanders and France Vote for the Right. But Flanders Will Not Get What It Is Entitled To

Yesterday’s general elections in Belgium marked a significant move to the right as well as towards Flemish independence. In Wallonia, the French-speaking south of the country which lives off subsidies provided by Flanders, the Dutch-speaking north, the elections led mainly to a shift from one leftist party to another: the Parti Socialiste’s share of the Francophone vote dropped from 34.0 to 26.8% while Ecolo, the French-speaking Greens (red at the core) rose from 8.4 to 15.2%.

In Flanders, however, the Liberals and the Socialists lost heavily. The leftist Liberals of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt fell from 24.7% of the Dutch-speaking vote to 20.1%. The Socialists did even worse and fell from 24.8% to 16.2%. The elections were won by CD&V, an alliance of Christian-Democrats and Flemish-Nationalists, progressing from 25.3 to 31.4%, and LDD, the party of the maverick Jean-Marie Dedecker, who won 5.5%. The Flemish-secessionist, “islamophobic” and eurosceptic Vlaams Belang (VB) gained 19.2%. This is better than the 18.2% of the previous general elections in 2003, but less than the 24.1% which the party won in the 2004 Flemish regional elections.

The VB’s disappointing result can be attributed in part to factional infighting within the party leadership early this year, triggered by a newspaper interview in which a member of the party caucus torpedoed a collaboration between the VB and Mr Dedecker. The latter was a Liberal senator who had been ousted from his party for his criticism of PM Verhofstadt. Like the VB, Dedecker is also an outspoken Flemish-secessionist and a critic of multiculturalism and radical Islam. The combined scores of LDD and VB constitute 24.7% of the Flemish electorate voting for outspokenly separatist candidates.

In addition, the Christian-Democrats of Yves Leterme have formed an alliance with the equally secessionist, but pro-Europeanist Flemish-Nationalists, led by Bart De Wever. Mr Leterme, who is likely to become the next Belgian Prime Minister, is demanding a constitutional reform which should give Flanders greater powers. Mr Leterme, the son of a Walloon father and a Flemish mother, caused a stir last year when he told the French newspaper Libération that Belgium is an “accident of history” which has no “intrinsic value.” He also criticised Belgian King Albert II for not being fluent in Dutch, the language of the majority of his people.

If Mr Leterme were to form a government with the VB and LDD, he would have a sound majority of 56.1% of the Flemings in support of greater Flemish autonomy and center-right economic policies. Such a coalition, however, is unlikely to happen, because Belgian governments need majorities in both Flanders and Wallonia. Hence, the most likely outcome of the elections will be a coalition of the Christian-Democrats with yesterday’s losers, the Liberals and the Socialists, saddling the Flemings with yet another center-left government, despite their democratic demand that the right take over.

In France, by contrast, the electorate gets what it is entitled to. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP swept yesterday’s French parliamentary elections, gaining 46.4% for the UMP against 35.6% for the Parti Socialiste. This allows the new president to press ahead with the badly needed economic reforms. The latter are unlikely to happen in Belgium as long as the Belgian state exists, because Wallonia, at the receiving end of the welfare state mechanism, lacks any incentive to reform the system and can veto any attempt of the Flemings to do so.

Expectations are that the Belgian coalition talks will probably drag on for some time and result in a coalition that lasts only two years instead of a full term of four years. This will allow new general elections to be held in 2009, coinciding with the regional elections for the Flemish and Walloon regional parliaments. Flemish secessionists hope that, if at that moment the formation of a national government becomes impossible, the Flemish Regional Parliament will unilaterally declare Flemish independence.

Classic di Rupo quote from the Economist

From the Economist : http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9307330   The same is true in reverse for Wallonia. If it were a separate country, the local Socialist boss, Elio Di Rupo, would be frontrunner to be prime minister. But a mere 3.1% of Flemish voters say he is their ideal choice. A bow-tie-wearing dinosaur, Mr Di Rupo asserts that public spending—not capitalism—is the source of new jobs in Wallonia. He also once asked why work was so important, when it accounted for only a fifth of the lifetime of a person who reached 80.

@ marcfrans

Perhaps I will give a little in that I'm thinking of the present and who knows what changes the next 20 years or so can bear?  Nonetheless, I find it difficult to imagine the idea of Belgium getting split up with part going to France and the other to the Netherlands without some major event such as a war happening.


I will hold to my statement of a "dominant, albeit supporting role" and you might just not have understood my perspective on that.  They are dominant in providing the leadership and government for this country as it has been decades since the last Walloon Prime Minister.  By "supportive", I am merely referring to the real situation where a lot of Flemish money goes into supporting the Walloon "socialist paradise". 


Your comparison of New Hampshire to Massachusetts is a bit off as they are two separate states in a union of 50+2.  They each make their own path where States Rights apply and follow the Federal lead on the rest.  This does not compare to the relationship between Flanders and The Netherlands now or in the hypothetical inclusion of Flanders as part of The Netherlands as was suggested.


Truth is, I believe a lot more in an independent Flanders than I ever would in Flanders joining their neighbors to the north, but I give neither idea much credit without a solution to Brussels.  Without discounting your comments completely, I wonder if you didn't just pick on certain elements of my post without taking the full jest of my opinion with an open mind.

Lord, grant me the strength to change the things I can;

the serenity to deal with the things I cannot change;

and the wisdom to know the difference.


An example: Nou moe, kroket uit de muur?

Another example: Doh leh no moh. (I think you will have to google that one... dutchsky.)
No offence intended.

The world is my village

Flanders and Holland

@Mystery Meat

Actually there is a political movement trying to (re)unite Flanders and the Netherlands, the so-called "Orangists". However they are just a small group. I don't think the "great-Dutch" idea would get much support from either the Flemish or Dutch population.


The Scots prefer to call their country... oops, their region: Ecosse.


@ Flemish American

Do the Flemish have a "dominant role", or a "supportive one" in Belgium?  They cannot have both at the same time.

It is true that the burdens of European history can be heavy at times, and that 'prejudices' abound, some more ridiculous than others.  So, I will not contest your negative assertion about still-possible arrogance of that sort in "Dutch society" (vis-a-vis the Flemish), nor in French society towards Belgian francophones.  Although I have my doubts about that.  Perceptions can change - and often do - over time.  Moreover, sometimes people can and do recognise their 'best interests', particularly in a broader European context.

In what substantive sense do you think that New Hampshire is treated as a "little brother" by Massachusetts in the USA?  You think the New Hampshire-ites (of "live free or die") care?  Or, under the assumption of a 'greater-Dutch' state in Europe, why would Flanders be treated differently or worse than, say Friesland or Limburg, are today in the Netherlands?   'Self-determination', among other things, should include not to be forced to have to subsidise others on a grand scale.  Now, if the 'Dutch' (of today) would want to subsidise the Flemish on such a scale, then their presumed 'arrogance' would be a very reasonable price to accept or pay by smart Flemish people.   But, subsidising other people that actually look down on yourself - which is the current Belgian situation - seems a particular grievous form of self-hate or stupidity.    

Flanders as part of Holland

Mystery Meat,


While your idea might seem logical because of the similar languages, it really has no cultural merit. 

Flanders is distinctly different from Holland and has no desire to leave a dominant, albeit supporting, role in Belgium to a place in Dutch society where they would indoubtably be treated as a little brother.  The Dutch, traditionally, demonstrate a "superiority complex" over the Belgians.


The Walloons and French are also not running towards each other.  France has problems enough without adopting problematic Wallonia and the Walloons wouldn't want to lose the protective covering of a strong Flanders to just becoming a low-class province of France.


There is also the issue of Brussels.  The Nationalistic Flemish will tell you they don't want it, but I don't believe they ever will get popular support for independence without it.  Brussels is too strongly tied to the economies of both regions for either to do without it.


I've never believed that Flemish independence has a true future, but that it is a card the Flemish continue to play to encourage (force) Wallonia to start taking more responsibility for itself.  It is more likely that the country will remain united, but that a strong push will come from the Flemish side for more autonomy in economic programs and use of taxes.  This push will have some impact but, as usual in Belgian politics, it won't have enough to please anyone asking for it.


Lord, grant me the strength to change the things I can;

the serenity to deal with the things I cannot change;

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Re: Pro-gay


"Pro-gay"? you think that people would vote for a party that made it compulsory to "experiment"??'

No but all the fundies are anti-gay and moderates get really tired of this.  Say gay tolerant then.  I am mostly speaking about Pim Fortuyn (who was openly gay) who clearly assembled enough support to be Dutch PM.

To prove my point...

To prove my point fear of islamic continued mass immigration into europe is possibly the ONLY point that every poster here seems to agree on.

Re: Godhi

Well people did vote for LDD. He's not ethically conservative, he is also not anti-immigrant, but is anti-Islamic, especially in the public sphere.


Where does the quotation come from?

a moderate anti-immigrant pro-gay pro-flemish/dutch politician would do better.

"Pro-gay"? you think that people would vote for a party that made it compulsory to "experiment"??

Please excuse my ignorance,

Please excuse my ignorance, but I have a question regarding "Belgium."

Has there been any talk of Flanders merging with the Netherlands and Wallonia merging with France? Is there any support for this?

Is there a mechanism for Flanders becoming independent? As you know, the Scots recently voted for independence and may eventually separate from the UK.

Scottish independence

"As you know, the Scots recently voted for independence and may eventually separate from the UK."

No, they didn't. The SNP won the most seats, but is still a minority party. They have however promised a referendum on independence. Opinion polls have always been confusing, but it's fair to say there has never been a consistent positive finding in favour of independence.

Amsterdamsky is right

Study the relentless failures of the radical left.  A platform that has something to offend everyone can never succeed.  The forces of reason all over Europe, should focus on the threat of political Islam and the need for economic reforms.  The religious aspects and the general anti-immigration platform will only weaken them.  

Lazy socialist pseudo-frogs....

"The group has calculated that an ever increasing amount of Flemish subsidies is flowing to the south each year (3.8 billion euros in 1990; 10.4 billion euros in 2003). "


BWAHAHAHAHA!!!  I am too lazy to do the math but I have heard that this amounts to 5 thousand euros for every Flemish person every year.  As for why the Vlaams Belang didn't do better I think it is the hard core Christian platform.  As with the Netherlands I think a moderate anti-immgrant pro-gay pro-flemish/dutch politician would do better.  Pim Fortuyn would almost certainly have been Prime Minister.  I don't think Flanders is so different although I have never lived there. You do not have to be a right wing fundamentalist to want to stop islamic immigration into europe. Gays are the most at risk being "less than pigs" to muslims. Where women are on this issue is beyond me.

" Mr Leterme, who is likely to become the next Belgian Prime Minister, is demanding a constitutional reform which should give Flanders greater powers. Mr Leterme, the son of a Walloon father and a Flemish mother, caused a stir last year when he told the French newspaper Libération that Belgium is an “accident of history” which has no “intrinsic value.” "

I like that. Now that neither Catholics nor Reformed Dutch/Flemish go to church anymore having a border north of Antwerp seems really silly. The difference between Breda or Roosendaal and Antwerp are nothing compared to Antwerp vs. Brussels. For this matter I think North and South Holland are much much closer to Flanders than Friesland.