First, like I mentioned already in the comments section, the VB (Vlaams belang, Flemish Interest) does make significant gains in virtually every town from the North Sea to the river Maas, and in several cities (Aalst, Lier) becomes the largest party. The results thus far indicate that the VB almost doubles its number of seats in town councils (from 439 to over 800) as well as its number of seats in provincial councils (from 54 to 87).
In Flanders's big cities, like Antwerp and Ghent, there was a either a status quo (the former) or a slight drawback (the latter). The same phenomenon could be observed in smaller cities with a huge immigrant population, like Mechelen. But especially Antwerp was the focus of national - and international - media attention, since it is the place where the VB originated and since it was considered the main battleground where the VB's strongman Filip De Winter (not the party chief, that's Frank Van Hecke) would challenge the sitting socialist mayor Patrick Janssens. Before October 8, De Winter had indicated he hoped to reach 35% of the vote in Antwerp (in 2000, the party got 33% of the vote). It turned out the VB won "only" 33.5%... while the socialists jumped from 16% to 35%!
Now, the disappointing status quo in Antwerp City is one thing, solid gains all over Flanders are another. To illustrate this, the following table shows the progress the Vlaams Belang made per province (Belgium has five Flemish and five Wallonian provinces) vis-à-vis the previous municipal elections, held in 2000 (in Belgium, there's municipal elections every 6 years):
West Flanders: +7%
East Flanders: +6%
Flemish Brabant: +6%
Keep in mind that this is a table per province: there is thus also a province called Antwerp, and on the whole and despite the VB status quo in Antwerp City, throughout the province the party chalked up a 7% gain.
But if you had been in Belgium last night and watched TV, the impression you would have got was that VB had suffered a severe setback. There's a saying that Antwerp City, pop. 460,000, is a big village. Yesterday one would have thought that the whole of Flanders was a big Antwerp. The progress made "nationwide" was totally overshadowed by the socialist gain in Antwerp. With the written press it was the same story: the headline of De Standaard, Belgium's main newspaper, screamed "VLAAMS BELANG STOPPED". While actually, it doubled its seats. The headline of Het Laatste Nieuws: "THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR THE VLAAMS BELANG". Goebbels already said that a lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth, and from glancing at a few newspaper covers today I got the impression that the regime press studied Goebbels well.
Nevertheless, the admittedly disappointing result in Antwerp deserves to be scrutinized. And then we see an interesting evolution. Check out the following map:
The map shows the nine electoral districts of Antwerp, which by and large are determined by the center and the suburbs. In case you wonder, yes, "7" is the place the Hoboken in Hudson County, New Jersey, is named after. Since in Antwerp the election was basically a megacontest between the VB and the socialists of the SP.a, the map shows which one is the biggest in each of the nine districts, whereby grey has been chosen for socialists and black for the VB (not a coincidence imho). In Antwerp City, "1", the center, the SP.a is biggest. Good. Now look at the periphery: with the exception of "2" and "4" it's all black. So, socialist are biggest in the center, VB is biggest in the suburbs. How to explain this?
1° Well, firstly, as you may or may not know, in 2004 the Belgian State, in one of its many instances of criminal insanity, granted voting rights in municipal elections to immigrants who do not even have the Belgian nationality on the condition that they know what Smurfs are, can tell Belgian fries from French ones and say "merci" upon receiving their monthly 1,000 EUR stipend from Social Security. Since it is a well-known fact that the socialists were the driving force behind these voting rights, it can be safely assumed that those who use these rights voted SP.a.
2° Secondly, there is the impact of the so-called Snel-Belg Wet (Quick Citizenship Bill), rushed through Parliament in 2000 after the previous municipal elections in which the VB, then still Vlaams Blok, also gained considerably. The "Snel-Belg Wet" (literally "Fast-Belgian Law") gives one Belgian nationality on very easy terms, namely:
* remain in Belgium for some time (some = three years, sometimes as less as two years)
* work in Belgium
* be married to a Belgian
Since North African youths who already possess Belgian nationality almost invariably prefer imported, unspoiled (and unassimilated) girls from Morocco, Algeria et al for brides, the Quick Citizenship Bill granted every newlywed young woman from these countries automatically Belgian nationality, and thus the right to vote. No one argued more in favor of this bill than the socialists, who correctly reckoned that the newcomers would in all likelihood vote for them.
3° Thirdly, there's the fact that those Belgians of North African origin who have been here since decades and whose numbers are quickly rising thanks to a much higher feritlity rate, vote overwhelmingly for the left.
4° Fourthly, not only is the fertility rate of the "old" Belgians much lower, since a couple of years they are moving out of the center in droves. Currently, Antwerp Central has a population of 460,000, of which around 120,000 are immigrants, or one quarter, most of them Moroccans. Of the remaining 3/4 of indigenous Belgians, around 4,000 leave each year and their place is being taken by about 5,000 newcomers of foreign origin, mostly from muslim countries (although recently there's been an influx too of East-Europeans). Almost as a rule, the newcomers vote for socialists.
And these dynamics yield the picture above. The "old" Belgians leave Antwerp Central for the (residential) suburbs and bring their political preferences with them, which explains the very high Vlaams Belang scores in places such as Deurne (nr. 5) where the party received a staggering 43.46% of the vote. Or like in Hoboken (nr. 7) where VB also got more than 40% of the electorate behind it. The very good VB results extend even beyond the nine districts. Not visible on the map, but lying immediately alongside the nine core districts, are such towns like Schoten, Boom, Niel, Borsbeek, Willebroek and Stabroek, and here also VB becomes the biggest party.
However, the other side of the medal is that in Antwerp Central the upward dynamic of the VB has (almost) come to a standstill: from 33% in 2000 to 33.5% in 2006. But as we have seen, since over a timespan of six years tens of thousands of potential VB voters have moved out and tens of socialist voters moved in, one can only conclude that the VB must effectively have grown further strongly in Antwerp City - only among "old" Belgians! Indeed, my fellow Flemish blogger Peter, who lives in Antwerp, gathers that 4 in 10 of every "Flemish" Antwerpian might have voted VB. Which, of course, does not detract from the fact that the socialists won significantly, and that this gain has been brought about largely by the immigrant vote. It is a phenomenon which will produce itself exceedingly all over Europe. We have already seen how, on March 7, 2006, the Dutch municipal elections were won by the Left and how the immigrant vote was largely responible for it. In Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Leiden the native population is effectively being ruled by people of Moroccan origin. Antwerp on October 8, 2006, is basically the same story. The Antwerp City Council has 55 seats. SP.a won 22, and 7 of them, or one third, are going to muslim immigrants: Sener Ugurlu, Karim Bachar, Ouardia El Taghdouini, Youssef Slassi, Fauzaya Talhaoui, Fatma Akbas, and Güler Turan. Only Fauzaya Talhaoui is a veteran. The other six seem to have suddenly come from nowhere, a result of the fact that immigrants not only seem to vote SP.a but in particular for their "own" SP.a candidates. This unlike "native" SP.a voters, who will often vote for immigrants out of a misplaced feeling of having to make good for past colonial injustices or whatever. Possibly the best illustration of this select link of immigrant candidates vs. their "own" electorate was offered in the runup to the elections in Gent, another large Flemish city with a huge immigrant population. There a Turkish candidate for the Christian Democrats, Fuat Korkmazer, opted for distributing leaflets uniquely in Turkish. Hooray for assimilation and the multicultural society!
Notice how the Belgian flag (Black/Yellow/Red) flows over in the Turkish one. If you visit the site of US Congressman Bobby Jindal, who is of Indian origin, which flag do you see up there? Yeah, that one. So, where do you think Mr. Korkmazer's principal loyalty lies, hmmmm? Interesting to know too is that Mr. Korkmazer was chairman of Gent Türk Ocagi, an organization with strong ties with the Turkish racist and fascist organization of the Grey Wolves. When news leaked out in the local Gent press, Mr. Korkmazer first denied his membership (of the Grey Wolves), then stepped down as chairman of Gent Türk Ocagi. It is interesting to notice that this sympathizer, if not member, of the Grey Wolves chose to be a candidate for the Christian Democratic CD & V. Pope John Paul II's would be assassin, Ali Agça, was a former Grey Wolf.
In Brussels, although the situation is more complicated there by the Flemish/Walloon antagonism, the situation is nevertheless comparable. Here too, not only is the number of immigrant councillors steeply on the rise, but also they tend to belong to the left. As Paul Belien from The Brussels Journal reports:
The Brussels borough of Sint-Joost-ten-Node (where the party headquarters of the Vlaams Belang party is located) has 19 councillors of non-European origin on a total of 27. Eleven of the 16 Socialist councillors in Sint-Joost are non-European immigrants, as are 4 of the 5 Christian-Democrats, 2 of the 3 Greens and 2 of the 3 Liberals.
Exactly 50% of the Brussels electorate are either foreigners or naturalized Belgians. Six years ago the figure was only 32%. In Antwerp, where 17% of the electorate are immigrants (11.5% in 2000), one third of the Socialist councillors are Muslims. In Ghent, where 12.6% of the electorate is foreign (8.1% in 2000), one quarter of the Socialist councillors are Muslims. In Vilvoorde, a Flemish suburb of Brussels, where 14.8% of the electorate is foreign (9.3% in 2000), half the Socialist representatives are Muslims.
Now, one could rightfully argue whether dominance, or indeed only a strong presence, of "new" Belgians in Belgian politics necessarily needs to be a bad thing. And my answer is: it doesn't. Or rather, it wouldn't have to be. It wouldn't have to be, if only the newcomers would subscribe to the Leitkultur here, which, despite the obvious drawbacks, still gets Belgium ranked among the world's foremost societies. Belgian industry may not produce things with ringing names like Sweden's Volvo, Saab or IKEA. But small as it is, our little country does produce an awful lot more than beer and chocolate. There are satellite and cyclotron and train builders here, there is top-notch pharmaceutical industry, and there is a powerful car and petrochemical industry. Some Belgian companies create huge artificial islands in the Persian Gulf on which superrich oil sheikhs erect cities, others build technology for integrating laptops in the world wide web. If you computer uses DSL, that was invented here! And why is that? Because our entrepreneurs still have the old zip. Because modest, low profile businessmen from small localities like Dendermonde somehow manage to secure contracts with the South Korean Army. Because our workforce by and large (especially the Flemish part) takes pride in delivering a tough and good job. Because our ways of dealing with each other, either in everyday life or in business, are still ruled to a large extent by old-fashioned, christian-inspired notions such as decency, reliability, honesty.
All this is not meant to denigrate the abilities and ways of other peoples who have come to my country. But we have to face the naked fact that our immigrants are mostly muslims, come mostly from arab countries, and vote overwhelmingly for the left. There is a reason for that. After the end of colonial rule, the arab countries almost without exception embraced socialism as the economical doctrine. Socialism applied without religion is bad enough, see the USSR. But when it is mingled with Islam, it will kill your country's economy. That is why anno 2006 the 22 muslim countries in the Middle East, with 270 million inhabitants, produce about as much as 5 million Finns, if you discount the oil. Somehow, the many millions of Algerians, Moroccans, Egyptians, Tunisians, Syrians and what not who flocked over the decades to Europe, failed to see the connection between the deadly combination of the socialism of their Nassers, Ben Bella's or Assads and their religion. Once in Europe they were showered with all the surplus welfare of our modern and rich societies, and the fact that the state was taking care of them and took responsibility out of their hands must have seemed normal, since where they came from the State had been omnipotent too. It may be one reason why muslim immigrants vote so massively for Europes socialist parties. But in the end, the net effect for Europe threatens to be the same. Already, the economic contribution of muslim imigrants is a mirror image of what passes for economy from Rabat to Baghdad: economies overwhelmingly based on trade with very little real production. Think, e.g. of countless small companies doing nothing but buying secondhand European cars and shipping them to the Middle East. Think of eateries and carpet shops. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. But while that kebab shop around the corner may indeed be an enrichment for Belgian gastronomic diversity, the lack of muslim companies producing anything more complicated than stools or tables can hardly be described as an enrichment for economic diversity.
And so it is with sadness that I see the current developments. The Left, traitors as they have always been when faced with bullies, do not even hide anymore that they are after the immigrant votes NOT because they care so much to reach out for them. It is about power, nothing less. Stayin in power. How do you stay in power when your traditional electorate dumps you? Simple: you usher in newcomers, give them rights, pamper them with free housing and positive discrimination and the only thing you ask in return is that their vote. It works. We see it in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Leiden. We see it in Antwerp, Gent and Brussels. We see it in Londen, Leeds and Birmingham. What we are seeing is that instead of us implanting Middle-Easterners in European economy, it's them implanting Middle-Eastern economy in Europe. Still, Europe can kid itself it's on a par with the US and Japan. But in twenty years? That magnificent Mercedes 280E you buy today is still the work of bright German engineers. But their hairs are silver, and their heirs increasingly scarce. I don't like to say it, but Europe obviously cannot count on Moroccan or Algerian engineers. Twenty years ago I was an engineering student in Gent. In my seven years of study, during which I held class with possibly three hundred different individuals, I have known only two muslim colleagues. The first one did not even make it past his first year. The second was indeed very intelligent and a computer whiz kid. But all in all, one has to conclude that so far, the muslim community among us has shown a spectacular ability to not contribute technical novelties in what is supposed to be the space age.
The Belgian municipal elections offer us an interesting glimpse into the future. A future with bipolar societies. In the cities, a large, miserable immigrant body asking itself why it finds Brussels 2025 not so different from Cairo 1965. Out in the country, an ageing local population angry and desperate over the loss of their country's prosperity, bitterly lamenting the fact they ever thought a limitless and conditionless immigration could ever solve their problems. Bitterly lamenting the fact they were so unbelievably foolish to once scold for racists, xenophobes and hatemongerers, those who saw what was in the making decades earlier.
Yesterday, I noticed an article in Gazet Van Antwerpen in which a certain Jan Hertogen, Sociology Professor and Professional Lunatic, had the following to say about the so-called defeat of the Vlaams Belang:
"The VB has only stalled in cities with a lot of Belgians of foreign origin. Eighty per cent of the inhabitants of foreign origin in the big cities have used their voting rights and stopped the extreme right. Therefore, it's the immigrants who have saved democracy."
Weep Europe. Weep.