Vote raises prospect of Belgian break-up

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Vote raises prospect of Belgian break-up

Vote raises prospect of Belgian break-up
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‘What future for Belgium?’ is the country’s burning question after the Flemish nationalists’ success in Sunday’s local elections.

Bart de Wever’s N-VA party made huge gains and some papers believe the prospect of Belgium splitting in two has come a step closer.

The man of the moment will be the new mayor of Flanders’ biggest city Antwerp, ending 60 years of socialist rule.

“I find it good that there is a change now. I have nothing against the previous mayor. That man also did his best, but on the other side, it is good that we now get other ideas, other methods. And we will see what will happen,” said one voter at the main railway station.

Another commuter was more wary:
“Because of the N-VA, I fear for the existence of Belgium. I think it is a step further to an independent Flanders, I think. Whether that is good, that is something else,” he said.

The New Flemish Alliance won more than 37 percent of the vote in Antwerp and 30 percent in several other towns.

Its success came at the expense of the far-right Vlaams Belang.

Bart de Wever said it was a “turning point in history”. He prefers to talk of winning more autonomy for Dutch-speaking Flanders rather than secession.

But the result is food for thought for Belgium’s French-speaking Prime Minister Elio di Rupo, two years before national parliamentary elections.