‘Belgium Means Nothing to Me’: An Interview with Vlaams Belang Chief Frank Vanhecke

‘Belgium Means Nothing to Me’: An Interview with Vlaams Belang Chief Frank Vanhecke

On Dec. 23, the Belgian Chamber of Representatives approved the formation of a new interim government, thus providing a respite from an institutional crisis that had seen the country without a government for some six months since general elections in June. The crisis was provoked by the inability of leading political parties from Flanders and Wallonia -- the Dutch-speaking north and the French-speaking south of the country respectively -- to come to terms on a governing coalition. It has transformed the hitherto merely theoretical prospect of a break-up of Belgium into a real possibility. One party that explicitly favors the break-up of Belgium is the Flemish secessionist party Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest). Based on the results of the June elections, Vlaams Belang represents the third largest political party in Belgium as a whole and the second largest in Flanders, where it enjoys the support of roughly 20 percent of voters. The party is frequently depicted as "extremist" or "racist" in the international media. Its predecessor party, Vlaams Blok (Flemish Bloc), was dissolved in 2004 after being condemned as such by a Belgian court. In an interview that appeared in German in November, Hanspeter Born of the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche spoke with Vlaams Belang chairman Frank Vanhecke about the party's goal of independence for Flanders and the charges of racism against it. The interview appears here for the first time in English.

The Editors


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