Slowed growth in Flemish Interest support
12 September 2006, BRUSSELS — While it is widely expected the extreme-right Flemish Interest will increase its share of the vote at the October local elections, that growth is not unstoppable, a study has found.
12 September 2006
BRUSSELS — While it is widely expected the extreme-right Flemish Interest will increase its share of the vote at the October local elections, that growth is not unstoppable, a study has found.
Between March and September of this year, the Flemish Interest's growth slowed somewhat, an inter-university internet survey has indicated.
A number of survey respondents who said in March they would vote for the Flemish Interest, changed their minds by the end of June, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, the Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang) is still set to increase its electoral representation compared with the 2000 elections, but the margin is smaller than expected several months ago.
"The trend is robustly visible and occurring in all of the studied cities," political scientist Stefan Walgrave said.
Respondents who had preferences for other parties also changed their minds, but with less consistency to indicate a trend.
The study did not investigate why the Flemish Interest lost support, but the turnaround took place when the party was under great pressure.
On 11 May, between the first and second survey period, the racist murders in Antwerp took place, placing the Flemish Interest on the defensive, partly due to the criticism from the parents of the murdered Luna.
And then there was also the controversy over the party's election posters and the announcement of the pro-tolerance 0110 concerts.
The fact that support for the Flemish Interest continued to decline in September can be blamed on the fact that public opinion always has a delayed reaction to events.
A second reason for the electoral swing is the success of Yves Leterme and the Christian Democrat CD&V-New Flemish Alliance NV-A. Surveys showed that the voters who turned their back on the Flemish Interest swung to the CD&V and NV-A coalition.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news