Belgian Flemish separatists make gains at polls

Bart De Wever arrives at the NV-A election party after they won the city elections in Antwerp Oct. 14, 2012. The Flemish Nationalist Party's leader Bart De Wever won the mayoral election in Antwerp

Related Stories

Local elections in Belgium have resulted in widespread gains for the Flemish Nationalist Party (NVA), which wants to divide the country further.

The party is now the biggest political force in Flanders, the Flemish-speaking region of Belgium.

Its leader, Bart De Wever, also won the race to become mayor of Antwerp, Europe's second-biggest port city.

The NVA's victory comes amid a growing separatist trend in Europe.

There have been growing calls for independence from nationalists in Catalonia in Spain and Scotland in the United Kingdom, as the eurozone crisis tests loyalties across the European Union.

After their success became apparent, Mr De Wever immediately demanded negotiations "to enable both Flanders and Wallonia to look after their own affairs".

He has played down talk of secession from Belgium. He has said he wants to turn Belgium into a "confederation," in which the Dutch-speaking north has fiscal independence while continuing to share some areas, like defence, with the French-speaking south.

The NVA believes that wealthy Flanders should not be subsidising poorer Wallonia, which it accuses of wasting money.

Mr De Wever argues that the party is standing up for Belgium's Flemings, who make up 6 million people in a country of 11 million.

It is a position which helped them to win 27 out of 150 seats in the last general election in 2010, but also led to political paralysis when Mr De Wever could not come to an agreement with coalition partners.

The BBC's Maddy Savage in Brussels says he will now be looking to build on the party's success in local elections to take on Belgium's socialist Prime Minister Elio di Rupo in national elections in 2014.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • SyedTanks instead of toys

    Lyse Doucet on the plight of children in Syria and Gaza


  • Silhouette of manSuper-shy

    Why do Germany's super-rich so often keep their heads down?


  • Detail from Gin Lane by HogarthMother's ruin

    The time was gin was full of sulphuric acid and turpentine


  • The two sisters in their bakery'Must be mad'

    Why two Spanish sisters started a bakery in a desert


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • EscaladeBling's the thing

    The ostentatious Cadillac Escalade cruises into 2015 with fuel-gulping gusto

Programmes

  • A sun bearThe Travel Show Watch

    The Borneo sanctuary coming to rescue of the world’s smallest bear

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.