Belgian far right parties face state funding cut
12 January 2005
BRUSSELS – A Belgian senate committee has voted in favour of cutting public money to political parties deemed undemocratic or racist.
The decision, taken on Tuesday evening, was staunchly opposed by far right Flemish party Vlaams Belang.
The Belang, along with far right French speaking party the Front National are the two Belgian political parties that look set to have most to lose from Tuesday’s vote.
The committee based its ruling on a 1999 law that bans funding for anti-democratic parties.
According to that law, money can be slashed for between three months to one year if the Belgian Council of State – the country’s highest administrative court – decides that the posters, tracts or programme of a party contradict democratic values.
Although the law is not retroactive, if a party makes racist declarations, events from the past can be mentioned when the Council makes its ruling.
If the rules were to be applied to Vlaams Belang, it would lose up to EUR 2 million each year in state funding.
The large majority of democratic parties in the senate, with the exception of the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V), urged the speedy adoption of the decision.
However, CD&V senator Marc Van Peel, described the initiative as stupid, unreasonable and counterproductive.
He accused French-speaking senators, the Socialists in particular, of trying to undermine Flemish parties.
Previous moves within the Flemish parliament to introduce the same rules failed.
Vlaams Belang is playing the victim in the affair.
“Once again, we have found ourselves on the accused bench,” said Senator Joris Van Hautem, accusing colleagues of trying to attack his party.
Vlaams Belang is expected to appeal the decision at the court of arbitration.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news