Four in five back prince's freedom of speech

2nd December 2004, Comments 0 comments

2 December 2004, BRUSSELS – A majority of Belgians have backed Prince Philippe's right to speak his mind, although the country is divided over his controversial interview on far-right party Vlaams Belang.

2 December 2004

BRUSSELS – A majority of Belgians have backed Prince Philippe's right to speak his mind, although the country is divided over his controversial interview on far-right party Vlaams Belang.

French-language newspaper La Derniere Heure and Flemish paper Het Laatste Nieuws reported on Thursday that 80 percent of the prince's subjects think the royal family is entitled to freedom of speech.

A total of 500 people were asked about the prince's comments to a Story journalist when he said Vlaams Belang – previously known as Vlaams Blok – was "trying to destroy our country".

Nearly half (45 percent) agreed with Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt who said the prince as a member of the royal family shouldn't criticise political parties, but another 46 percent said he had every right to comment on individual parties.

Some 55 percent of those polled supported the prince's views, compared to 30 percent who disagreed with him. But in Flanders the prince's views were less popular: 49 percent agreed with him.

When the newspapers asked politicians for their reactions to the prince's interview, their views also reflected a division between Flanders and Wallonia. Almost all the French-speaking politicians surveyed by La Libre said the prince had not necessarily violated his constitutional role in his comments whereas Flemish politicians almost universally condemned him.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news

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