The Dutch opposition leader Geert Wilders, whose Freedom Party PVV remains the biggest in the polls, wants the Dutch government of Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende to help dissolve Belgium so that Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium, can be reunited with the Netherlands.
Wilders refers to a recent survey of East West Global Index which indicates that Belgium ranks 152nd in a list ranking 200 countries by their reputation, behind countries such as Algeria, Romania, Libya, Liberia, Eritrea and South Ossetia.
Wilders and his fellow MP Martin Bosma have also asked the Dutch government to replace its ambassador to Belgium by an ambassador to Flanders, who is to help the Flemings achieve their independence as a first step towards reunification with the Netherlands. “Belgium is almost history. Great. The future is for an independent Flanders in a federation with the Netherlands,” Wilders said in a statement today.
Wilders is expected to win the European elections next month. In an attempt to stop the growth of the PVV, the centrist Dutch parties, the Christian-Democrats of Mr. Balkenende and the Liberals, have begun to copy his position on Europe (less power to the European Union and no admission of Turkey to the EU). Many Flemings hope that they will copy his position on Flanders, too.
Earlier this week, Flemings were reminded that Belgium is bad for Flanders when politicians from Wallonia, the French-speaking southern part of Belgium, campaigned against the candidature of Luc Van den Brande, a Flemish Christian-Democrat and former leader of the Flemish regional government (1992-1999), to become the next Secretary General of the Council of Europe in June 2009.
Initially it looked like Mr. Van den Brande would get the job for which he had the support of Karel De Gucht, the Belgian Foreign Minister, a Flemish Liberal. Walloon politicians, however, objected to Mr. Van den Brande having the position because, though he is a moderate who defends the Belgian state, he is in favour of more autonomy for Flanders.
The Walloons wrote a letter to the representatives of the Council of Europe, an organisation of 47 European nations, objecting to their compatriot getting the job. Even Olivier Chastel, the Belgian Deputy Foreign Minister, who is a Walloon Liberal, spoke out against Van den Brande. As a result, Mr. Van den Brande has been removed from the shortlist of candidates for the top position at the Council of Europe. This has made many Flemings aware that, despite the fact that they are the majority in Belgium, their interests will never be defended by Belgium.
Meanwhile, the political debate in the Netherlands centers on the question whether political parties are willing to join a coalition led by Mr. Wilders if his PVV becomes the biggest party in The Hague in the next general elections in May 2011. All the parties of the Dutch Left have ruled out a coalition with Wilders, but the centrist parties have not.