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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La Belgique face au défi séparatiste à Anvers et en Flandre

by Françoise Germain-Robin

Belgium faces the challenge of separatists in Antwerp and Flanders

Translated Monday 15 October 2012, by Harry Cross and reviewed by Henry Crapo

This Sunday voting takes place in Belgium’s 589 communes including the 308 of the Flemish region. Voting is mandatory and open to European citizens and foreigners who have lived in the country for over 5 years. The principle stake in this election will be the electoral weight carried by the Flemish nationalists given that over 60% of the population lives in Flanders.

An electoral advance by the NVA (New Flemish Alliance) is predicted. Since the municipal elections of 2006 the party has incorporated elected officials defecting from Vlaams Belang (far right) but also the Christian Social party CD&V. This party, in electoral free fall despite its participation in the coalition government, has paid for its alliance in the past with the NVA, which used it as its Trojan horse by operating under a single list in 2006.

“Wake up, Belgians!”

The Flemish liberals have also flirted with the nationalists, most notably in Antwerp where two of their elected officials have joined the NVA. Faced with this danger, the left and intellectuals in the country are taking up the fight. Two initiatives have marked the last few days of the campaign: the Antwerp playwright staged, starting Tuesday in the National Theatre in Brussels, a bilingual piece called “the language of my mother” which he conceives as “a challenge to defeatism.”

Secondly, a group of ten authors, mostly Flemish, published on Thursday a book in three languages (French, Flemish and German) with the eloquent English title “Wake up, Belgians!” They invite the silent majority to wake up and silence those who champion the break-up of their country. The polls will declare if their call has been heeded.

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