As I have been saying for what seems aeons, Belgium is NOT an artificial country.
It should therefore come as no surprise that if one of the main pillars of your party programme is Flemish Independence, your platform will in time crumble. This is what happened to the VB. Flemings are not, I repeat, NOT, interested in independence.
We all love our country, Flemings and Walloons alike. PERIOD.
The VB bigshots have forever been people from Antwerp, who are the furthest removed from Belgium's south, Wallonia - both geographically and in the hearts and minds. Long ago they should have quietly moderated their stand on independence, which is unattainable anyway, even if sufficient Flemings were for it. Very curiously, the VB leadership seems incapable to comprehend that there is a mighty supranational power - the EU - which would smother any viable attempt to split the country in a heartbeat. After all, Belgium is in many respects a mini-EU, and one of its six founding members. Surely Belgium dissolving into two states would seriously undermine the concept on which the much more complicated EU itself is based.
It would however be dishonest to attribute the VB's catastrophic loss solely to its stubborn insistence on independence.
I discern several other factors:
a.) Chief among them is that the party has had to undergo, since its foundation in 1977, a barrage of lies and insults via the media, the educational sector, and the rest of the political establishment, that defies description. The media and the educational sector, per the Gramscian revolution, are inherently leftist. Belgian politics is quintessentially leftist too. The only party that counts, apart from the VB itself, and which would earn a center-right label, is the N-VA (a relatively young party, in many respects a VB-Lite) in Flanders. In Wallonia there is no such thing, and what passes for the right there, the MR, is centrist, actually.
In short, if youngsters are told fom right after Kindergarten that 'progressive = good', 'conservative = bad', you get an electorate in which people with rightist impulses by nature tend to feel guilty for it. Last autumn, my daughter, in her first year of high school, witnessed her teacher Dutch, Stefaan D., lambast the Vlaams Belang. Two weeks ago she overheard a couple of classmates telling each other that the VB is 'racist'. I guess you get the picture.
A forty-year long ugly smear campaign does have results, you know. Another consequence is that when as a party you find yourself attacked from all sides, it becomes very difficult to attract competent people.
b.) Voter fatigue. People KNOW that the VB will be forever held from power by the cordon sanitaire. It was invented by a green scoundrel, Jos Gheysels, and supported by tailor-made legislation. Basically the cordon sanitaire (notice the wording: 'sanitaire', as if being unashamedly right is somehow something filthy) is a covenant between all so-called democratic parties to NEVER work together with the Vlaams Belang.
c.) the Zeitgeist is not favourable. The West is in decline. There's no denying it. The attitude among untold millions of native Europeans is one of 'Après nous le déluge'. Which means that if one of the central tenets of your programme is the preservation of European culture, identity and civilization, you're not immediately arousing great enthousiasm anymore.
d.) The current VB chairman, Gerolf Annemans was perceived too much as a man of the past. And just like his predecessor, the very decent Bruno Valkeniers, he was unable to connect with the electorate - even with his normal constituency.
All the same, I am a bit surprised that the gains made by the VB's 'successor', the N-VA, aren't bigger. Then again, maybe not. Center-right N-VA, while ethically far from being conservative, did profile itself as the party of those who work, those who save, and the enterpreneurs. But in 2014 Belgium, where the public sector is gigantic, and where hundreds of thousands of deliberately imported immigrants AND millions of 'natives' are sucking the government teat every day, a constituency based on those who invest in a new business or work in the private sector is a shaky basis, to say the least.
Belgium's only real rightwing party, the Vlaams Belang, lies wretched and defeated in the mud - partly, but certainly not wholly, because of its own strategy (or lack thereof).
The apparent winner, the N-VA, has made serious gains - amongst others at the expense of the VB - but those gains are not enough to break the stalemate.
The left remains very strong, especially in Wallonia, where the Parti Socialiste still garners around 40 per cent of the vote. The Flemish quislings, the 'liberal' Open VLD and the 'Christian Democrat' CDV (may the names of Alexander De Croo and Wouter Beke be cursed for eternity), who in 2011 made sure Parti Socialiste strongman Elio Di Rupo got the top job as Belgium PM, have NOT been punished. Which is a shame, since the Di Rupo I government's impact on the labor market has been a slaughterhouse.
And as always, while the parties are susceptible to the whims of the electorate, the figureheads planted by the leftists in all the state-run strata of society, the unions, all kinds of institutions... remain in place.
Belgium, as the rest of Europe, will continue its march into the twilight.
And me? I will stick with the VB. I have never been a quitter or an opportunist, and I wasn't today. Filip Dewinter, if it's any consolation for you, my wife and I voted for your daughter.
But change the strategy.