Vlaams Belang planning ‘massive’ ride-in protest in Brussels
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Vlaams Belang planning ‘massive’ ride-in protest in Brussels

Credit: Vlaams Belang/Facebook

Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang (VB) is seeking to entice followers to ride into Brussels en masse in an “unseen” demonstration against their exclusion from the new federal government.

In a heavily produced video shared on social media, VB frontman Tom Van Grieken urged followers to hop on their cars and drive them into the Belgian capital on Sunday so as to form a “united Flemish front” against “political elites.”

“We have to send out a signal, we have to take action,” Van Grieken said in the video, which shows him delivering an impassioned pro-Flemish speech in a dark room before a line of black cars, with engines roaring, are revealed with a bang as the music crescendos.

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Van Grieken said the protest, named ‘Not my government,’ will be a “unique and unseen” stunt denouncing the absence of a Flemish majority in a new federal coalition government, which other parties are sprinting to create ahead of an October deadline.

Geen woorden, maar daden! Op 27 september organiseert het Vlaams Belang een protestrit naar Brussel voor de toekomst van…

Geplaatst door Vlaams Belang op Dinsdag 15 september 2020

Along with the nationalist Nieuw-Vlaamste Alliantie (N-VA), VB came out as the biggest winner of last year’s federal election but tensions with other parties have seen them both excluded from the oncoming so-called Vivaldi coalition.

In the video, the far-right leader seeks to galvanize support for the protest beyond the party’s base, painting their demonstration as an action “of all the Flemish.”

“They are playing with the future of Flanders, with the future of our children and grandchildren,” he said. “That is why it’s so important that we go to Brussels en masse on 27 September.”

Van Grieken said that the drive-in format of the protest was decided upon so the party’s “opponents” could not accuse protesters of not respecting the coronavirus regulations, which prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than 400.

Hours after the far-right party —the country’s splurgiest social media spender— launched the video promos and the event on Facebook on Wednesday morning, 600 people said they would be attending while over 2,000 more showed interest.

Some users who expressed an interest in joining the protest pointed out that their cars were not allowed into the city’s Low Emissions Zone (LEZ), which since 2018 has banned old and polluting vehicles, adding that if they chose to attend on foot they would be risking a fine.

The far-right party — a rebrand of the Vlaams Blok which dissolved after a 2004 trial condemned the party for racism —has since last year spent massively on online advertising, seeking, in particular, to draw in young voters.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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