C&B Notes

Secessionist Wave Sweeps Belgium

Much of the discussion about Europe has focused on the division between countries, with our trip to Greece this summer providing an apt andecdote:  many Greeks believe that Germany still owes them reparations from World War II.  Old divisions within countries are also being exposed, with Belgium encountering difficulties similar to Spain’s.

Flemish nationalists made sweeping gains across northern Belgium in local elections on Sunday, a success that will bolster separatists’ hopes for a break-up of the country.

Bart De Wever, leader of the New Flemish Alliance (NVA), is set to become mayor of the northern city of Antwerp, Belgium’s economic heartland, after his party emerged as the largest one, ending about 90 years of socialist rule.  “We want to give Flemish people the government they want at all levels.  That is why I call on Elio Di Rupo and the francophone politicians.  Take up your responsibility,” said Mr. De Wever.

The strong result recorded by the Flemish nationalist is likely to have an impact across Europe, where the sovereign debt crisis, which has seen rich countries bail out poor ones, has revived separatist sentiment throughout the continent.  Flanders, which is the most economically prosperous region of Belgium, has long resented financing the ailing economy of French-speaking Wallonia, and Sunday’s victory will strengthen its demand for self-rule.

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The strong result recorded by the Flemish nationalist is likely to have an impact across Europe, where the sovereign debt crisis, which has seen rich countries bail out poor ones, has revived separatist sentiment throughout the continent.  Flanders, which is the most economically prosperous region of Belgium, has long resented financing the ailing economy of French-speaking Wallonia, and Sunday’s victory will strengthen its demand for self-rule.