Political situation in Belgium – as complicated as never before – The New Nationalism

Political situation in Belgium – as complicated as never before

Since the last elections, the Belgian-European elections of May 2019, Belgium is without government – without governments in fact. Belgium is probably the most complicated country in Western Europe. According to Professor Hendrik Vuye, a Flemish nationalist who teaches in the French-speaking university of Namur and was a former member of the Belgian federal parliament for the moderate Flemish nationalist party N-VA, Belgium today counts 9 parliaments and 8 governments, this all due to the regionalisation of the country. This complicated and constitutionally unworkable situation is one of the reasons why the radical right nationalist party Vlaams Belang pronounces a split of Belgium into a Flemish state and a Walloon state.

Since the last elections, with the following results (see below, only results for the Flemish parties) all governments in Belgium should be renewed. Since May 2019 there is no progress and more than 100 days after the election no new government has been formed (Belgian, Flemish, Brussels, Walloon, etc.). A first government was presented 2 days ago in Walloon country: (left) ecologists, (left) social democrats and (centre liberal) MR.

For the rest: silence at all fronts. No progress is made on the ‘national’ level, since Flanders voted strongly moderate right wing and radical right wing and Wallonia voted left and radical left. Is this the end of Belgium as we have known it?

The recent poll, organized by the largest newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws and television channels VTM and published on 13 September, points out that the radical nationalist party Vlaams Belang would obtain 24.9%, and the moderate nationalists 22.7%. Together they would have a majority of seats in the Flemish parliament.

Party Federal elections 2014 * Federal elections 2019 * Flemish elections 2014 Flemish elections 2019 Poll September 2019
N-VA 20.3 16.0 31.9 24.8 22.7
Vlaams Belang 3.7 11.9 5.9 18.5 24.9
Liberal Open VLD 9.8 8.5 14.1 13.1 13.3
Social democrat SP.A 8.8 6.7 14.0 10.3 8.4
Christian democrat CD&V 11.6 8.9 20.5 15.4 11.7
Green Groen 5.3 6.1 8.7 10.1 11.0

With these results, how a new federal government should be formed? A right-wing majority is possible in Flanders, but unthinkable in French-speaking Belgium. A left-wing Belgian government has no majority in Flanders (with 62% of the Belgian population). The Flemish liberals, social democrats and Christian democrats don’t want to govern with Vlaams Belang, and till yet, the 2 Flemish nationalist parties didn’t have a majority in the Flemish government. With new elections, such a majority is a possibility.

People, and especially young people, are more and more enthusiastic about Vlaams Belang. N-VA has – with a pressure by Vlaams Belang – a lesser margin to compromise with the old establishment parties (liberals, christian democrats, social democrats). Are we looking towards new elections and the end of Belgium?

  • Federal elections: don’t forget there are no more ‘Belgian’ parties. Each party can only be voted for in its own region, so the results on the federal level are always lesser than the results in the Flemish elections.

Peter Logghe

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