Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest)

Vlaams Belang (VB). Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) is the representative of the most radical portion of the Flemish nationalist movement, a populist and radical right-wing party which seeks an Independent Flemish state.

The successor of the Vlaams Blok, banned in 2004 on grounds of racism, Vlaams Belang is not as radical as its far-right predecessor, having moderated in an attempt to look more like a conservative party.

While it is a separatist and Eurosceptic party in reality its voters are primarily motivated into support for it for its strong immigration, anti-establishment and law and order stances. Vlaams Belang is victim to a cordon sanitaire whereby all major parties agree not to form coalitions with it (a former CD&V leader once said that any municipal party which formed a coalition with VB would be expelled en masse). Ironically this probably helps the party’s support, by sharpening its anti-establishment profile and making it a clear protest vote option.

VB’s support has fallen in recent years on the back of increased competition on the Flemish nationalist right, and the departure of popular leaders. Nonetheless the party retains significant support, and is the largest opposition party in the Flemish parliament.

Vlaams Belang is not a member of any European political party, though it was briefly a member of the short-lived far-right Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty group in the last parliament. Its MEPs are also members of the European Alliance for Freedom group and it may be a candidate for a new political group which is said to be in the planning by France’s National Front.