More on Flanders and the N-VA

I've been following the reaction to the Belgian election last Sunday, and been particularly disappointed by some of the presumptions made about the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (New Flemish Alliance) in the UK media.

The general it seems that nationalism and the desire for a Flemish State are seen as racist and exclusive, and very few commentators here have been able to distinguish between the inclusive, civic nationalism of the N-VA and the exclusive, sometimes racist, nationalism of Vlaams Belang, whose share of the vote fell dramatically. They have linked the N-VA's success in Belgium with the rise (though only to 15% and third place, with the other parties refusing to work with them) of Geert Wilder's vehemently anti-Islamic Partij voor de Vrijheid in the Netherlands.

As a short illustration of how wrong that perception is, this is a short feature from the N-VA website:

Met de 28-jarige Nadia Sminate uit Londerzeel en de “Limburgse” Antwerpse Zuhal Demir (30) stuurt de N-VA voor het eerst in haar bestaan twee jonge leeuwen van allochtone origine naar de Kamer. Zuhal en Nadia zijn respectievelijk van Turks-Koerdische en Marokkaanse afkomst. Ze vinden in de N-VA een partij die gaat voor echte ipv bepamperende integratie en voor een streng maar rechtvaardig migratiebeleid. Zuhal wil zich als advocate in het parlement toeleggen op arbeidsmarktbeleid, net zoals Nadia die zich zal concentreren op de optimalisatie van de combinatie arbeid en gezin.

With the 28-year-old Nadia Sminate from Londerzeel and the "Limburg" Antwerper Zuhal Demir (30) the N-VA has for the first time sent two young lions of immigrant origin to the Chamber. Zuhal and Nadia are, respectively, of Turkish-Kurdish and Moroccan origin. In the N-VA they find a party that wants real integration instead of patronizing, and a firm but fair immigration policy. As a lawyer, Zuhal wants to focus on Labour Market Policies, while Nadia will concentrate on optimizing the balance between work and family life.

Highlights, 17 June 2010

I've relied heavily on Google for the translation, and would welcome any improvements. Perhaps I should also explain that one layer of the reference to "lions" is that the flag of Flanders is a black lion on a yellow background.

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As I said when the results came in, it will take some time for the shape of the new Belgian government to become clear. N-VA leader Bart De Wever has been appointed as the informateur charged with negotiating a working coalition. If it can command a two-thirds majority, it will be able to break the constitutional impasse that led to the dissolution of the previous parliament. The consensus view seems to be that Francophone socialist leader Elio Di Rupo will become Prime Minister, with Bart De Wever content to let that happen in return for constitutional reform.

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4 comments:

A Change of Personnel said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/17/plucky-belgium-leading-the-way

http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/tom-nairn/time-to-call-it-day-sometimes-it-is-right-for-country-to-recognise-that-its-job

Not sure if you saw Simon Jenkins piece or the article on Our Kingdom both are worth a read on the subject of where Belgium and the UK may go next

Anonymous said...

yes, notived the Independet talked of 'populist' N-VA ... as if the Walloon socialists, who got a few percentage points less weren't 'populist' too.

The N-VA are accused of looking after their narrow-linguistic priorities ... just like the Francophone Socialists who look after the narrow linguistic priorities of their voters (i.e. French voters who don't want to learn to speak Dutch and who would never allow a square km of Walloonia become Dutch-speaking).

Macsen

Anonymous said...

And for extra info: French speaking voters, migrating to dutch speaking flanders, and then refusing to learn dutch, but instead want to annex that little municipality to brussels so they can avoid need for dutch.

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