Friday, 25 September 2020
Supporters of far-right party Vlaams Belang (VB) will gather in a parking lot outside Brussels on Sunday to protest the lack of a Flemish majority in the incoming federal government.
Parking lot C in Grimbergen, in the northern outskirts of Brussels, has been chosen as the designated spot for the VB-led protest, which has been heavily promoted on social media since it was announced last week.
Some 3,800 people on Facebook have said they will attend the “drive-in” protest, for which the party is calling on supporters to ride their cars into Brussels in an act of defiance against a perceived “anti-Flemish policy” in the incoming government coalition.
Tensions with other parties as well as an informal agreement to not associate with the far-right have seen the VB constantly snubbed from the federal coalition talks.
But support for the far-right party soared in last year’s elections, leading it to snatch large chunks of the electorate from Flemish nationalist Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), the number one party in Flanders.
Promoting the protest on Sunday, the party is seeking to appeal to supporters beyond this base, saying the demonstration is about “the future of our children and grandchildren,” and about the “Flanders where we want them to grow up.”
“We want to send a defeating signal to the political elite that Flanders will not tolerate left-wing and anti-Flemish policies,” the party wrote online.
Demonstrators are expected to gather in the parking lot from 10:00 AM on Sunday for a static demonstration in which members of the far-right party are expected to give speeches.
The party is urging participants to keep the protest static by remaining in their own vehicles and to wear a face mask in order to avoid criticism or repression for flouting coronavirus rules.
The Brussels-Ixelles police zone will supervise the demonstration which Grimbergen officials have said can go on until 1:00 PM.
Several departures have been organised from places throughout Flanders as the party seeks to set up “a visible convoy” towards Brussels in order to boost the protests’ visibility.
Handouts of flags and “other campaign materials” will be organised by the party at each of the designated departure points, and the party is also seeking to promote the protest online by urging supporters to update their profile pictures with protest banners, according to a statement on the protest’s website.
As the party promoted the protest online and before a meeting location was announced, several social media users pointed out that despite wanting to join the protest, their vehicles were banned from entering Brussels for being too polluting.
The Brussels Times