The Vlaams Belang declared itself convinced on Sunday, during a congress held in Lier (province of Antwerp), that the momentum for the independence of Flanders will be given in 2024, after the legislative and regional elections planned June 9 next year.
The far-right party, leading in the polls in the north of the country, presented on this occasion a roadmap for the post-election period.
For the Vlaams Belang, it is crucial that the party can form a Flemish majority with the N-VA, indicated some participants in the congress, described as “community”. Otherwise, the plan for the independence of Flanders will fall through.
The impetus for independence will be given next year, predicts the party, which will emerge as the most important at the end of the elections next June, which will give it the initiative to form the future Flemish government. “Furthermore, there is the possibility that the formation of a federal government will become impossible,” MEP Gerolf Annemans said on Sunday.
While the N-VA wants Belgium to split from the federal level, the Vlaams Belang wants to leave the Flemish parliament. A declaration of sovereignty would be voted there, after which a period of negotiations could follow with Wallonia. “Ideally, a divorce treaty will follow after this period of negotiations, as we saw with the Czech-Slovak divorce” in 1992, explained Mr. Annemans.
Brussels would then also become part of Flanders. This is the only possible solution, assures the party, because the city is completely surrounded by Flemish territory.
“We are offering Brussels residents a bilingual city in which the rights of French speakers will be fully respected,” assured VB President Tom Van Grieken.
This is likely to succeed, he added, as the people of Brussels will realize, he believes, that as an integral part of Flanders they have a more financially prosperous future. “Besides, the love of the inhabitants of Brussels for Wallonia is no longer so great today”, indicated the president.
What is crucial in the party’s plans is the possibility of forming a majority with the N-VA at Flemish level. “Otherwise, it’s impossible”, admitted in half-words of the parliamentarians present at the congress. “If N-VA President Bart De Wever can easily form a majority without us, he will probably do it quickly. But if we have a majority together, the internal pressure in the N-VA will become great. Then De Wever will have to choose between leading with us or watching his party crumble,” said one.
The Vlaams Belang wishes to devote the coming year, before the elections, to promoting the benefits of independence to the Flemings.
Former senator Lode Vereeck, who has become the party’s economic adviser, once again insisted on transfers between Flanders and Wallonia during the congress.
“The transfer amounts to 15% of the Flemish budget,” he said. “If we had this money, it would be an additional 8,000 euros each year for an average (Flemish) family,” added Mr. Vereeck, who denounced the poor management of Wallonia.
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