Belgium’s top appeals court has upheld a ruling branding the Vlaams Blok party racist. In terms of parliamentary seats the Vlaams Blok, led by Filip Dewinter, is the biggest party in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region. In June it won 24 percent of the vote in regional elections. In April an appeals court ruled that three associations linked to the Blok had breached Belgium’s anti-racist laws. Faced with the likelihood of losing crucial state funding and being banned from the media, the party filed an appeal.
The party is now set to reinvent itself under a slightly modified name: the Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Interest. Its members voted over the weekend to modernise the party’s statutes and tone down its policy on immigration. The Vlaams Blok has previously advocated expelling the majority of non-European immigrants to their home countries.