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Fresh survey shows Belgians do not want country to split

21 March 2005

BRUSSELS – The vast majority of Belgians are in favour of keeping their country united, according to a new survey published on Monday.

A total of 87 percent don’t want Flanders and Wallonia to separate, despite the continued political spats between the francophone and Flemish-speaking communities.

The new poll confirms the findings of other recent surveys that have also shown most Belgians do not want their country to split up.

Some 2,000 Belgians were polled on political matters by the private radio and TV company RTL-TVi and the newspapers La Libre Belgique and Het Laatste Nieuws.

The survey showed that Flemish Belgians have the same attitude towards the matter as their francophone counterparts, although the popularity of the separatist parties Vlaams Belang and NV-A in Flanders suggests otherwise.

Aside from complete separation, though, a total of 64 percent of Flemish speakers polled said they wanted more political power transferred to the regional parliaments.

In Brussels, just 39 percent support more devolution and less than a third in Wallonia (28 percent).

The survey also suggests that the ruling federal coalition, which won the June 2004 elections, is losing popularity.

The centre-right Mouvement Reformateur and the Flemish liberal VLD parties were supported in the poll by fewer voters.

Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s Flemish liberal VLD party was just the forth most popular Flemish party at 19 percent, behind the Christian Democratic CD&V which polled 25 percent.

However, Verhofstadt himself seems to be becoming more popular.

In Flanders, he is the preferred leader and in Brussels he even managed to beat popular Charles Picque in the opinion poll.

Flemish voters aren’t keen to see Elio Di Rupo, the President of the French speaking socialist paty (PS) become Prime Minister.

Just 14 percent backed him compared to 39 percent in Wallonia.

While PS support was down on that of the last election, the party does not seem to have emerged badly scathed from the recent scandal concerning PS senate president Anne-Marie Lizin.

Among the opposition parties, the CDH has proved to be the only one maintaining a steady rise in popularity.

By contrast, Green party Ecolo is suffering in Wallonia, but gaining ground in Brussels.

Among the extremists, support for the far right Vlaams Belang remains strong in Flanders, although the new poll found it is no longer the single most popular party in the region.

It appears to have been knocked into second place by the centre right Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V).

In Wallonia, the francophone far-right Front National polled 7.4 percent, a fall in support since last June’s regional elections.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news