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    Walloons are for greater autonomy, but against separation

    About 52% of Walloons favour greater autonomy for Belgium’s regions, as against 40% in 2013, the Walloon Institute of Studies, Prospective and Statistics, IWEPS, indicated on Tuesday at the publication of the Wallonia Social Barometer. On the other hand, 92% said they would still vote against separation from Belgium were there to be a referendum on the issue, even if more and more feel such a scenario is plausible.

    Some 61% of the poll’s respondents saw greater regional autonomy as an increasingly realistic scenario as against 46% in 2013.

    “The strong vote in favour of a united Belgium reflects Walloons’ sense of belonging,” IWEPS stressed. “While, politically, they said that, above all, they had an attachment to the communal and local levels, 72% of respondents said they felt Belgian first and foremost.” The level of attachment to Wallonia was 52% and to the municipalities, 41%.

    “The more people are proud of their Walloon identity, the more they are proud of belonging to Belgium,” noted IWEPS. “It is also to be observed, and this is doubtless what makes Wallonia special compared to other regions, that the feeling of belonging is not exclusive.”

    However, an increasing number of Walloons see separation from Belgium as a realistic scenario: 36 % believe in it, up from 21% in 2013, according to the poll,

    “It can be thought that the political decisions and choices made in the past few years at the national level have contributed to increasingly drawing a symbolic border between the regions,” IWEPS noted.

    Andy Sanchez
    The Brussels Times