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The EU vote in Flanders. News Team

The media is claiming that Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) did poorly in the EU election. They received two seats, down from 3 in the 2004. Vlaams Belang is a right-wing/populist Flemish secessionist party. Several members of the CofCC National Board of Directors have met the leaders of Vlaams Belang when they visited Washington DC about two years ago.

To say that Vlaams Belang did poorly or is in decline is completely false. The fact is it was a totally different election. In 2004 Vlaams Belang didn’t have any competitors. In this election they had to compete with two new parties actively campaigning for the same voters. You also have to keep in mind that Belgium lost two seats when the EU was redrawn.

In the 2004 Flemish EU vote, Vlaams Belang received 23% of the Flemish vote. The right of center Flemish Christian Democrats received 28%. The socialist party received 18%, far-left Green party received 8%, and the left of center Flemish Liberals & Democrats received 22%.

This gave the Flanders a 51%-49% slight edge for the right.

In the 2009 Flemish EU election, the party lines were completely redrawn.

First, the pro-secessionist wing of the Flemish Christian Democrats cartel broke off and ran as it’s own party. This party, the New Flemish Alliance, had not run in 2004 and 2007 elections as an independant party, but as a cartel (alliance) with the Christian Democrats.

This New Flemish Alliance primarily campaigned among voters who heavily support the Vlaams Belang(VB). They called themselve “more pragmatic,” and the “re-shaping of radical Flemish nationalism into a contemporary way.” In other words, they were Vlaams Belang light. This party received 10% of the vote, while the Flemish Christian Democrats received 23%.

Then there was Jean-Marie Dedecker. Dedecker broke away from the Christian Democrats and formed his own party called Common Sense. Dedecker modelled himself after slain Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. In fact, the brother of Pim Fortuyn campaigned for Dedecker. Fortuyn was a maverick politician who combined many libertarian views with an opposition to immigration. Fortuyn especially opposed Islamic immigration because Muslim immigrants immediately seek to change the culture.

Dedecker also styled himself as a libertarian who opposed immigration. Dedecker called for a flat tax and slashing government spending of social services. Dedecker campaigned heavily in VB waters. Some previous VB supporters voted for Dedecker this time because of his economic policies. Dedecker captured the Libertarian/Capitalist wing of the right. Dedecker was elected to the EU, with his party gaining 7.5% of the vote.

Vlaams Belang got 16%, with the socialists getting 13%, Flemish Liberals & Democrats received 21.5% and the Greens getting 8%. Another 1% of the vote went to tiny left-wing parties.

So vote wise, 56.5% of the vote going to the right. With 33.5% of the vote going to parties to the right of the Christian Democrats.