Saturday, March 23, 2013

Autonomy Good Enough for Leading Flemish Nationalists; Full Independence Too “Costly for Us and Belgium”

The leader of one of northern Belgium’s nationalist parties, Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V, or “Christian-Democratic and Flemish”), said March 18th that he supported autonomy for Flanders, the Kingdom of Belgium’s Germanic-speaking northern half, but not outright independence.  Speaking during a visit to the francophone separatist region of Quebec, in Canada, the leader, Kris Peeters, who is also Flanders’ minister-president, said, “I don’t support Flanders independence.  I’m convinced that our region needs more powers in different areas, such as taxation etc., but I also believe that Flanders needs Belgium.”  Complete secession, he said, would be too costly for Flemings and for all Belgians, including the French-speaking Walloons of the south.

Kris Peeters with the Belgian, Flemish, American, and E.U. flags.
The sign on the podium has the word sfmoma, a Flemish slang term for “head honcho.” 
CD&V is the leading member of the governing coalition in Flanders’ devolved parliament.  The junior-coalition-partner Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliante (N-VA, or “New Flemish Alliance”), which has 16 seats to CD&V’s 31, favors a peaceable secession from Belgium (but wishes to remain in the European Union).  The far-right, racist Vlaams Belang (“Flemish Interest”) party has a full 21 seats but is in the opposition.  In the direct-representative lower house of Belgium’s national parliament in Brussels, CD&V is the second-largest party in the ruling coalition, while the N-VA and Vlaams Belang are in the opposition in that body.

In the minds of the far-right Vlaams Belang party, this is a photograph of Flanders’ gradualist, centrist minister-president, Kris Peeters, planning a Saracen invasion and occupation of Brussels.
Last week, the N-VA said it would push for greater separation if it wins Flemish elections scheduled for May 2014.  By then, Scotland will be farther along in its campaign to separate from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in a referendum now scheduled for September 18, 2014.  Catalonia will also vote next year on independence from the Kingdom of Spain.  How both campaigns proceed will likely have an effect on how the two competing visions for Flemish nationalism fare.

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it some time in 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

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