Wednesday, November 10, 2004

What will they do now in Belgium?

This blog had a piece about the disgraceful behaviour of the Belgian Government under the “liberal” Guy Verhofstadt and some Belgian courts in April. We pointed out that Mr Verhofstadt was conducting an entirely unjustified hunt against the Flemish separatist party, the Vlaams Blok.

The Vlaams Blok has been accused of being racist and xenophobic and under laws passed soon after Mr Verhofstadt coming to power this means a deprivation of state financing – death to a political party in Belgium – and stringent fines on anyone who is involved with such an organization or works for it.

For a while various courts refused to pass the judgement demanded by the Belgian government, arguing that a political party must be judged by the voters. They have, indeed, judged it by making it the most popular party in the country. In the European elections of June it received over 13 per cent of the vote and in the Flemish regional elections at the same time they received over 24 per cent. Present polls show that they now have over 26 per cent support in Flanders, which accounts for 60 per cent of Belgium’s population and is the productive part of the country.

Eventually a court in Ghent was found that agreed to judge the party to be racist. The Vlaams Blok appealed and in a completely predictable move the Belgian Supreme Court has upheld the judgement.

The party’s policy on immigration is not seriously different from some other, more official ones, such as that of the Dutch government. They want to stop any further immigration and repatriate any immigrants who do not adapt to the culture of the host country. Unpleasant maybe, but not something that requires a persecution and a ban.

The Vlaams Blok maintains that their real crime is that they preach Flemish separatism, a market economy and are strong on family values and other “outdated” ideas. Their message is that the productive Flemings are supporting the etatist Wallons, who seem to be natural bureaucrats battening on the hard working inhabitants of Flanders.

A number of their opponents, as we have already pointed out, seem to agree with this, adding only that such ideas are out of line with the modern world of international organizations such as the EU (and Belgium, if truth be told) and various charters of human rights, that apparently no longer allow for freedom of speech.

The Vlaams Blok will, no doubt, survive, reinvent itself under a different name and gain in popularity from its status as a martyr. Whether the state of Belgium and its ruling class will survive is another matter. But, coming so soon after the Buttiglione affair, this is another disturbing development. Once again, one does not have to agree with the opinions voiced to worry about the growing intolerance of the “liberal” ideology that underpins the European project.

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