Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Belgium: the left and the right growing and splintering

Belgian elections on June 7

Similar to what is happening in The Netherlands, to the North of Belgium, in politics the center is weakening and splinters are forming in the wings.

Belgium's communities

Belgium is devided in the Flemish North and the Walloon South. The Flemish speak Dutch, the Walloons speak French. Traditionally the country was Walloon dominated. Since the 1970ies the Flemish part has become economically dominant. But this is only very slowly translating into political gains for the Flemish. Increasingly however the Flemish are turning their backs on the Walloons. The Walloons have never been much interested in Flanders, apart from Flanders as a source of income transfers.

Sponging Wallons find a new sponge

This is evidenced by the dominance of the Socialist Party in Wallonia. The 19th century heavy industry has become a grave yard. The workers are laid off. Their unemployment benefits are unaffordable for Wallonia. Dynamic Flanders makes up the balance in the name of "solidarity". Socialist dominated Wallon society is never reformed and it has become a backward, socially and morally bankrupt rust belt.

The elections in Wallonia for the Wallons parliament saw gains at the expense of the Socialist Party by the Greens (Ecolo). The Wallons are voting for a new sponge with a different colour. It is still a sponge.

Dynamic Flemish inch towards the right

The Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang of Filip DeWinter lost both in the European Parliament elections and the Flemish Parliament elections. Their voters were picked up by "Lijst DeDecker" and the "NV-A". They are both right-wing parties, expousing anti-socialist and Libertarian positions. They agree with Vlaams Belang on more autonomy for Flanders. However they are much more moderate with regards to immigration and Islamisation. The Flemish centrist parties were further weakened.

It will continue to be difficult to form governments in Belgium. The authority of government coalitions which can be put together will be low. The attitude of the Wallons voters seems unchanged. In Flanders the retreat of the Vlaams Belang is remarkable. It is the first retreat of the Vlaams Belang. It may be interpreted that under the influence of the world wide recession Flemish voters (Dutch) are more interested in economic issues than in issues of culture and identity.

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