Is the tension existing at present in Belgium between the North and South still ‘tenable’ in the long term? No, says the President of the New Flemish Alliance, Bart De Wever. His book Vlaanderen Onvoltooid (which may be translated as “The Incomplete Flanders”) came out yesterday (Wednesday).
In this book he details the paradigm shift which he understands to be taking place in view of an evolution towards confederalism.
He does not know when this change will happen but he observes,“2019 is looming fast.”
Although the book is not officially published by the party, the New Flemish Alliance has bought 4,000 copies. These will be sold to party officials and leaders. Bart De Wever justifies, “It is important to socialise our base within the ‘Flemish Movement’”. He sees the task of ‘nation building’ as one of the principal duties of his political party.
He considers that the Flemish Movement has already borne fruit at the level of so-called ‘commonplace’ nationalism.
He elaborates his theme, “The young have grown up and live their lives in a Flemish context. Their frame of reference is entirely Flemish.”
He says, “However, considering yourself as a member of a group is not an obvious fact to back this up.”
He references the sense of belonging stated by the Basques or the Scots.
Within Vlaanderen Onvoltooid, Bart De Wever remarks that today’s Flemish nationalism is not inspired by historic resentment of the past. Instead it is framed “by the desire of a community which has been shaped as a political entity.”
The leader of the New Flemish Alliance says that this is a desire which is necessarily obstructed, by “all kinds of bolts and mechanisms that were once designed for the protection of the country’s communities. However today they form more of a constraint when faced with the most basic democratic rights.”
The Belgian state may have emerged, over the course of time, around a kind of addition of two democracies.
He says, “We (the Flemish, editor’s note) are no longer at a standstill going through our rapid social and cultural development, indeed the transformation of our democratic and economic rights.”
The book states that the majority of Flanders inhabitants consider that the markets and society must take their course. They feel that this is likely to happen with little support, if any, available from the authorities.
This is a viewpoint which may be radically opposed opposed to that prevailing in the South, the book says. There you would expect the authorities to play an active role in the economy and the operation of the community by running and regulating it.