Far-right calls for autonomy
10 September 2007, BRUSSELS (AFP) - A far-right leader in Flanders was to urge the regional parliament Monday to issue a proclamation of autonomy, arguing this is the only way out of Belgium's political impasse.
10 September 2007
BRUSSELS (AFP) - A far-right leader in Flanders was to urge the regional parliament Monday to issue a proclamation of autonomy, arguing this is the only way out of Belgium's political impasse.
Filip Dewinter, head of the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) party was expected to question Flanders minister-president Kris Peeters on "his attitude in the face of the impasse in community negotiations at the federal level," the party said in a statement.
Talks on forming a national coalition between parties in the Flemish-speaking northern region of Flanders and in Wallonia, the French-speaking south, have failed to produce a new government three months after a general election on 10 June.
The impasse is over Flemish demands for more power to be given to regional governments: many politicians in Belgium's poorer French-speaking region already fear this could lead to the country splitting up.
To rescue the situation the Flemish parliament, which represents 60 percent of Belgium's 10.5 million people, "must draw up and proclaim its own autonomous status proposal," Vlaams Belang said on its website.
It then proposes a referendum in Flanders on the plan
Dewinter's far-right party holds 32 seats in the 127-seat Flemish parliament.
Besides the six million people in Flanders there are 3.5 million in Wallonia and one million in the largely francophone Brussels capital region.
Brussels, the country's third official region, is the only place which is officially bilingual, with road signs and administrative documents in French and Dutch. It is also home to European Union institutions.
Flanders has been afforded some political concessions in recent years, notably better representation in the national parliament.
Others, such as the transfer of more powers to the regions, remain blocked by the francophones who wish to retain the federal status quo.
According to the Belgian press, the far-right initiative will have no immediate consequence because other Flemish parties prefer to continue the current discreet coalition talks being led by the leader of the lower house of parliament Herman Van Rompuy, a major force in the Flemish Christian-Democrat ranks.
[Copyright AFP 2007]
Subject: Belgian news