October 17, 2012


Flemish nationalism: a new landscape : The results of Belgium's local elections has brought victory in the northern Flanders region to the conservative and nationalist but democratic New Flemish Alliance. This represents the transformation of Flemish nationalism (Cas Mudde, 10/15/12, OpenDemocracy)

Insofar as the international press took any interest in Belgium's local elections on 14 October 2012, the story it found there was about the rise of separatism. The Washington Post got in early with a headline the previous day: "As EU basks in Peace Prize glory, separatists from Belgium to Spain are on the march" (nationalists tend never to be "on the rise" but ever "on the march"). And like virtually all other media, the Huffington Post summarised the local elections as follows: "Big separatist gains in local Belgian elections."

But rather than the rise of Flemish nationalism, the local elections were about the transformation of Flemish nationalism. [...]

The VB is not dead yet, as VB chairman Bruno Valkeniers declared with a degree of pathos as the results came in; but the party is (for the moment) no longer relevant in Flemish politics. This also means that Flemish nationalism is now squarely back in the conservative, but liberal-democratic, camp. Paradoxically, this makes it actually more threatening to the Belgian state. Because while radical-right Flemish nationalism could be contained by a cordon sanitaire, conservative Flemish nationalism cannot.

Posted by at October 17, 2012 7:28 PM

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