Belgium split intwo by election
14 June 2004
BRUSSELS – This weekend’s regional election split Belgium in half with the extreme-right Vlaams Blok and traditional right wing parties winning clear victories in Flanders while the socialists triumphed in Brussels and French-speaking Wallonia.
La Libre Belgique newspaper spoke of a “Belgium cut in two” in its Monday edition and also described the country as being divided between “red and black”, a theme taken up by many other newspapers.
“More than ever before, Belgium finds itself with two groups of electors who hold diametrically opposed opinions,” La Libre Belgique said.
The big shock for opponents of the extreme right was the success of the Vlaams Blok, a party that earlier this year was condemned as legally racist by a Belgian court.
The Blok is now the second most popular party in Flanders and has won 32 seats in the regional Parliament.
Almost one million Flemish people voted for the Vlaams Blok on Sunday out of a total Flemish population of just over five and a half million.
“Nearly a million Flemish people have voted in favour of a party that bases its policies on the hatred of other people and exclusion,” La Libre Belgique said.
The most successful party in Flanders was an alliance between the centre-right Flemish Christian Democrats (CD-V) and the Niew Vlaams Alliantie (NV-A).
NV-A was formed by members of a now defunct party called Volksunie, a Flemish nationalist grouping generally considered to be more democratic than the Blok.
In Brussels and Wallonia meanwhile, a party at the other end of the political spectrum emerged victorious.
The Socialist Party increased its majority in Wallonia and remains the leading political force in south of the country.
In Brussels meanwhile it overtook the centre right Mouvement Reformateur (MR) to become the largest single party in the regional parliament.
Full results for Belgium’s regional and European elections can be found at:
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news