Right-wing nationalist party Vlaams Belang (VB) is currently the most popular political party in Flanders, overtaking government party N-VA of minister-president Jan Jambon.
The results come from the latest edition of De Stemming, an opinion poll carried out by the Free University of Brussels VUB and the University of Antwerp on behalf of De Standaard and VRT NWS.
At the Flemish elections in 2019, N-VA scored 24.8% of the vote, putting the party in a leading position in government. That score went down to 20.3% at the last Stemming in 2020, and has now recovered slightly to land at 21.5%.
For Vlaams Belang on the other hand, growth has continued, from 18.5% at the last election, to 24.5% in 2020, to finish on 24.7% now, more than three points ahead of N-VA and the most popular party in the poll.
VB has the advantage, admittedly, of not being in government and therefore not being held responsible for performance in one of the most difficult years in recent times.
“Vlaams Belang has exploited [public mistrust],” said Stefaan Walgrave (UA), who coordinated the poll with researcher Jonas Lefevere (VUB).
Those polled were also asked to rank their favourite Flemish politicians, and the vote went overwhelmingly to Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), but only with 13.2%, up from 3% in 2020, before he became prime minister.
Bart De Wever (N-VA) came second with 11.8%, slightly better than 2020. In third place was Tom Van Grieken (VB) with 5.3%, a personal score down from 7.3% a year ago, showing his popularity moving in the opposite direction from that of his party.
However, politicians will be looking carefully at one particular response to the question, ‘Which politician at this moment represents you best’? The answer from around one-third of those polled, and a result higher than any, was ‘None of the above’.
One interesting result of the poll is the fact that, if an election were to be held tomorrow in Flanders with these results, the current coalition (N-VA, Open VLD and CD&V) would not have enough votes to form a government. In the 2019 election, the three parties together scored 53.3% of the vote, compared to only 43% now.
One possible pairing, using the latest results, could form a two-party coalition: N-VA and VB.