A study by Leuven University seems to counter the famous assertion that Walloons are predominantly left-wing and the Flemish more right-wing, reports Le Soir newspaper on Friday. The research, based both on pre-election polls for every election between 1991 and 2007 and the 2008 European Social Survey, studies social welfare and immigration, and showed few differences between north and south.
According to the study, the differences are actually related more to opinion. Walloons are more attuned to socio-economic issues and the Flemish more worried about issues affecting their culture. The Flemish are not more hostile to immigration than the Walloons, however, when migrants or foreigners are portrayed in a negative light, French-speaking Belgians are more likely to refer to abuse of social benefits, and the Flemish to the threat to their traditions. Walloon electors also appear to have a more negative attitude towards Islam and Muslims, according to the study.