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10,000 take to Heysel in protest at Vivaldi coalition
Far-right political party Vlaams Belang staged a major protest yesterday on Parking C of Brussels Expo. Convoys of participants with Flemish flags attached to their vehicles arrived from across the region to take part in the protest against the impending Vilvadi federal government.
The so-called Vivaldi coalition – a name taken from the composer’s best known work, The Four Seasons – is close to an agreement to form a federal government. Negotiations have been ongoing since the federal election of May 2019.
Early in the negotiation process, the biggest winners in the election – Flemish nationalists N-VA on the Dutch-speaking side of the border and socialists PS on the French-speaking side – were working on an agreement. Just when the leaders of both parties, Bart De Wever and Paul Magnette, respectively, seemed to be close, the talks broke down.
Liberals, socialists, greens and Christian-democrats on both sides of the language border then came together to form a majority coalition without N-VA. King Philippe appointed the chair of the Flemish liberal party Open VLD to lead negotiations.
“It appears that the Vivaldi train has left the station,” Vlaams Belang chair Tom Van Grieken told Radio 1. “But this government does not have a Flemish majority.”
His party is furious that a federal government coalition will be formed without N-VA, the party in the country that got the most votes. Vlaams Belang itself got the third highest number of votes in Belgium, after PS.
While Van Grieken said that he expected about 1,000 vehicles to arrive at Parking C on Sunday, some 5,000 showed up, bringing about 10,000 people in total to the protest
“The Brussels politicians in their ivory towers cannot miss this sign from the Flemish people,” said Van Grieken. “On 26 May 2019, Flemings voted predominantly Flemish nationalist and right-wing, and now they are getting the opposite. More Belgium, leftist policies, open borders and, as the icing on the cake, a green party minister. That was not the message that Flemish people sent on 26 May."
Van Grieken also took the opportunity to suggest that Belgium be dissolved. “Flanders voted right and Wallonia left, so you can never form a government that will satisfy both. That is not a political crisis, it’s a system crisis. We should both go our separate ways.”
Photo ©Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA