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Populism in Belgium The Case of the Flemish Block. POL333 Populism and Political Parties. Outline of the presentation. Main aim : the Flemish Block as an example of the ( radical right - wing ) populist political party

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populism in belgium the case of the flemish block

Populism in BelgiumThe Case oftheFlemishBlock

POL333 PopulismandPoliticalParties

outline of the presentation
  • Mainaim: theFlemishBlock as anexampleofthe (radicalright-wing) populistpolitical party
  • Theoretical background: Mudde`s, Stanley`s approach to populism
    • Spottingpopulism: manicheanviewofpolitics, antiestablishment appeal, denigrationofelitesandvalorisationofthepeople
    • Complemented by Mudde`s approach to radicalright (nativism, authoritarianismandpopulism)
  • Context (politics in Belgium), historyofthe party, itsdiscourse, votersand role ofthe party in thepoliticalsystem
politics in belgium
Politics in Belgium
  • Constitutional monarchy
  • Parliamentaryregime
  • Federal polity (so-calledEgmontpact in 1977) – federalinstitutionsaccompanied by communityandregionalones
  • Proportionalelectoralsystem (nothreshold, open-list, d`Hondt formula, compulsoryvoting)
  • Party system – party systemdualism (Flanders, Wallonia), socialist, liberal, christiandemocratic, green parties
  • Anexampleofconsensualdemocracy
history of the flemish block
  • Resultofpersonaldefectionof prominent membersofthePeople`s Union (EgmontPact) – FlemishPeople`s Party and Flemish National Party (1978 – electoral alliance Flemish Block, merger party VB, KarelDillen)
  • Orange Booklet – manifestation of the ideology of the party standing on three pillars: conservatism, secessionist nationalism and solidarism
  • Independence of Flanders as the main aim of the party
  • Only modest electoral success in the 80s
  • Radicalization of the programme of the party in late 80s (anti-establishment appeal + nativism) accompanied by increase of its electoral support (1988 / 18% of votes in local elections in Antwerpen)
  • National electoral success in 1991 (Black Sunday] followed by further increase of support up to 12% in 2007 (more than 20 % in Flanders)
party ideology
Party ideology
  • EconomicallymotivatedFlemish nationalism and separatism
  • Euroscepticism
  • Eigen volkeerst! (Own people first!) – againstfrancophoneBelgians, immigrantsandasylumseekersandthepoliticalelite
  • Arrogant, corrupt, incompetent, irresponsibleandcriminalpoliticians (more critical to leftistpoliticians)
  • Sovereigntyofthepeopleundermined by thepoliticalandculturalelite (includingjudges, the media, the academia, thechurch, thetradeunions)
  • Stronganti-immigrantsattitude, welfarechauvinism, againstmulticulturalism, forassimilation/integration (language)
development of the party
Developmentofthe party
  • Cordonsanitairas a reaction to thesuccessofthe party in 1991 – not included in nationalgovernments
  • Internaldivisionofthe party betweentheradicalandthemoderatewing
  • 2004 – a courtruling on anti-racistanddiscriminationattitudesofthe party; a changeofthenameofthe party to theFlemishInterest (VlaamsBelang) – (questionable) moderationofthe profile ofthe party (personalcontinuity) + move to neo-liberaleconomicpolicies
  • Accompanied by other „populistfellows“ List DedeckerandWalloonNational Front