Separatist party cleans up in Belgium

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Separatist party cleans up in Belgium

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A party that wants to split Belgium has scored major wins in the country’s municipal elections, an historic sea-change.

The New Flemish Alliance got the most votes across a vaste swathe of districts in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

The Party’s leader, Bart de Wever, is set to become Mayor of Antwerp, Europe’s second largest port.

Speaking at his election night party, he urged the French-speaking Prime Minister Elio di Rupo to prepare for change, a clear call for confederalism.

With 80 percent of the votes counted, the New Flemish Alliance is on 36 percent. De Wever has made it plain he is looking for national impact from the local polls.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the party’s success. But he rejected any wider interpretation. As far as the federal level is concerned, he says, there is no connection at all between the local and federal elections.

Meanwhile, the incumbent Mayor of Antwerp has admitted defeat. Patrick Janssens’ alliance of Flemish Socialists and Christian Democrats has just under 30 percent.

Excluding a six-week gap in 1976, Antwerp’s mayor has been a Socialist since the end of the Second World War.