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Nearly 40% of Flemish would vote for independence

The Belgian flag flying in Places des Martyres in Brussels. Credit:Dr Les (Leszek - Leslie) Sachs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Nearly 40% of Flemish would vote to split up Belgium if a referendum were to be officially organised, as opposed to only 14% of Walloons and 17% of Brussels residents.

A new IPSOS survey published in Le Soir and RTL question a total of 2,508 Belgian citizens over the age of 18 about their opinions on the state of the federal government.

The survey split respondents’ replies depending on whether they lived in Brussels, Flanders or Wallonia, with their added-up responses used to represent the Belgian replies.

Nearly eight months after the results of the federal elections continue to see parties unable to agree on the formation of a federal government, the survey showed that 37% of Flemish respondents would vote to split up from the rest of Belgium in any potential referendums on the question.

In Wallonia and Brussels, those numbers stand at 14% and 17% respectively, but the added figures show that 28% of Belgian respondents would be favourable to a split up, and that 40% would favour organising a referendum on the issue, 7su7 reports.

Bart Maddens, a political scientist at KU Leuven university, said that feelings past periods of political instability also saw a spike in feelings of separatism among Flemish residents, which subsided once the waters settled.

“In October 1991, there was a huge clash between communities regarding the arms deliveries from a Walloon factory,” Maddens told HLN. “A survey from KU Leuven at the time showed that 33% of Flemish people were in favour of splitting up Belgium.”

“A few weeks later, when the clash was over it, turned out to be just 14%,” he said, adding that the “phenomenon” had become more recurrent since then and that it was “now happening again.”

The survey, called the Great Barometer, also showed that a majority of Flemish respondents want new elections to be organised, as opposed to around 29% of Walloons of Brussels residents.

A majority of the respondents also said that, while they did not consider the impasse at the federal level to impact their personal lives, they considered that having no government for over a year was “shameful.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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