Some background and some facts.
Belgium will have municipal elections in October 2006. All through fall 2005 and spring 2006, polls showed a consistent surge in the support for the Vlaams Belang, Flanders (and Belgium’s) biggest party. Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), founded in 1977 as Vlaams Blok (Flemish Bloc), is only kept from power through a colourful but increasingly ineffective hodgepodge coalition of all other parties, a shaky construction dubbed the cordon sanitaire. That does not mean that the VB is the sole opposition and all other parties are in government. It does mean, however, that government and opposition parties alike have agreed among each other never to cooperate with Vlaams Belang, this on the grounds that the VB is a racist, xenophobic and hatemongering party. The hidden, bigger truth is that the VB is to be kept from power because one of its goals is an independent Flanders – which is the real explanation why the most ardent adversaries of the VB are the Wallonian parties, especially the Parti Socialiste (statistically, every last one of Flanders 6 million inhabitants yearly pays some 2,000 EUR – roughly 2,200 US$ - to keep the Wallonian semi-communist state afloat) and, naturally, the Belgian royals – for obvious reasons! To explain why the VB is indigestible for the Flemish socialists is that it is pro-family, pro-life, anti-gay marriage, anti-gay adoption, anti-immigration AND that it has a relatively strong Catholic wing, counting a.o. party heavyweights like MP’s Gerolf Annemans and Irish born Alexandra Colen – the journalist Paul Belien's wife.
It is true, as I have said before on this blog, that the origins of the VB are murky. It saw the light in 1977 as a house of malcontents leaving another, now defunct Flemish nationalist party, the Volksunie (People's Union). One cannot deny that those were the streetfighting days, nor that Flemings sympathetic to Nazism found shelter in it. How did this come about? Within the Belgian federal framework, right up to this very day, Flemings have ALWAYS been second-rate citizens – even though rich Flanders, now with a GDP almost as big as Sweden’s – provides the real horsepower for the Belgian economy. Not without some justification, one might joke that the Flemings were/are Belgium’s Shiites, while the Walloons were/are Belgium’s Sunnis. The struggle for recognition of the rich culture of Flanders and its language, Flemish (which relates to Dutch like American English relates to British English) inside a francophone Belgique has been long and hard, and on two occasions important organizations of Flemish activists have, in vain hopes of getting from under the Wallonian yoke, sided with a party they should have avoided: the German invader, both in World War I and in World War II. In 1914-1918 the German occupier had his Flamenpolitik, promising a degree of Flemish independence and a.o. a Flemish University in Gent. In 1940-1944 the Germans went further and extracted apart from political cooperation military cooperation: enough Flemings were drafted to finally form a Waffen SS infantry division, the 27th Waffen Grenadier “Langemarck”. In both conflicts, opportunistic Flemish populists got themselves used for unsavoury purposes for a bait, Flemish self-rule, which all to soon proved illusory – the German yoke simply replaced the Wallonian, and it was much worse. The awakening after the armistices in 1918 and 1945 was hard, and left the country with a body of embittered Flemish nationalist outcasts.
In the seventies, such various groups of Flemish Eastern Front veterans – tough men who had seen the endless steppes and proudly worn the typical shoulder patches with the Flemish Lion on a Feldgrau sleeve, almost inevitably flocked to the new political formation promising once more glory for Flanders: the Vlaams Blok, as it was called then and until 2004, when the party was banned by Belgium's politically correct establishment and it quickly had to take another identity as the Vlaams Belang.
But whether they went to Russia to fight Bolshevism or not, whether they were proud Flemings or not, I am sorry to say that among these men were convinced Nazis too, and they left their mark on the young formation. They were not in a majority position, but they were unmistakably there. And so nazi rhetoric from time to time surfaced, as well as references to white supremacy and contempt if not hatred of other races. Needless to say, back in those days I would never have joined the VB. But as time went by and problems caused by immigration could no longer be ignored nor explained by native racism – in other words, those problems also had, and have, their origin in a deliberate refusal of (part of) the immigrant community to assimilate – the VB gained credibility. And while it was long really only a two-theme party – Flemish Independence and anti-immigration – it gradually acquired enough political maturity to have a say in other socio-economic matters. Figures of much greater intellectual and moral standing, sick and tired of the left’s self-deprecating discourse packed in woolly messages, gravitated to the party. At the turn of the millennium, the VB had in the eyes of many, certainly Joe Average in the street, gained sufficient decency and credibility to partake in Belgium’s political life. Which is why polls reveal time and again that the average Fleming, even though he keeps voting for other parties such as the VLD or the Christian Democratic CD & V, has no objection to VB co-governance in some federal or regional coalition. It’s the leaders of those and other parties, self-declared True Democrats, who stubbornly keep ignoring "the will of the people".
I have long been a member of the once center-right liberal party VLD, pro free market, but with a rather loose attitude on ethical matters. When in 2004 this party not really objected to granting non-Belgian citizens the right to vote in municipal elections I broke with it, and joined the VB - the vets here may remember that. In The Netherlands too, the Lunatic Left granted this right to people who do not even WANT to acquire Dutch citizenship, and the result is that the ever shrinking native Dutch populations in Hollands big cities – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, now find themselves de facto under foreign rule. In Belgium, with 10.3 million people vs Hollands 16 million, we do not have such powerful concentrations in the cities yet – but the critical treshold is approaching and islands of Islamic self-rule, like Molenbeek, are an established fact. Everybody knows the tipping point is approaching – the Socialists know it, and actually they count on the immigrant vote to replace the lost votes of native working-class Belgians, their traditional electoral base, whose votes went either to the VB in Flanders or to the Front National in Wallonia. The VB knows it too, which makes it literally a race against time for the party to become strong enough to force the other parties to abandon the Cordon Sanitaire and weigh on decisionmaking, e.g. by reversing the municipal voting rights.
Not only has the VB profiled itself over the years as pro-family and pro-life – its ads frequently show families consisting of married moms and dads (wedding rings!) plus a few kids, it is also a strong proponent of a Flemish Leitkultur. Put simply, the VB is very hunky dory with immigrants preferring, say, couscous over Belgian fries at home – but the Flemish National Anthem, Vlaanderen de Leeuw, will always be sung in Flemish, NOT in Moroccan. This too, this flat rejection of multiculturalism, has earned the VB the hatred of not only the leftist parties and the centrist parties who have more or less submitted to the false mantra of multiculturalism, but also of the media, the unions, and the gazillion of socio-economic government-installed organizations meant to “reach out” to the poor oppressed categories of unwilling-to-learn-Flemish-even-though-living-here-for-forty-years immigrants.
To cut a long story short, for the truly overwhelmingly leftist Belgian political, cultural, and educational scene the Vlaams Belang is THE DEVIL INCARNATED. State-owned television regularly offers “enlightened” profs and various “intellectuals” forums to explain to the brave but oh-so-dumb Belgian why this party should be abolished. The written media have over the decades become leftist bulwarks to the extent that even business publications like the once renowned Financieel-Economische Tijd are now infested with anti-globalization aficionados and overripe May 68-ers.
It’s against this backdrop that you have to understand the mood among these groups as the prospects for yet another brilliant VB victory in the fall elections seemed excellent. In early April 2006, all parties other than the VB began to seriously feel the heat, and here and there mayors, fearing unworkable town and city councils, began to speak out against the cordon sanitaire, only to be rebuffed violently by their party chiefs. With mounting anger and frustration, the Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, whose coalition of liberals and socialists accumulated scandals upon blunders took notice of the ever stronger showing of the VB in regular polls.
Then came, in mid-April 2006, the Joe Van Holsbeeck murder.