A political party in Belgium has announced that it will be sending a free can of beer to people throughout the country in order to mark a national holiday. (EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS)


Vive la Flandre! Flemings get free beer to commemorate victory over French


A political party in Flanders has announced that it will be sending free beer to residents to mark the anniversary of a battle that saw the region defeat the French.

Vlaams Belang, the right-wing nationalist party active in the Belgian territory, said the move was part of the Day of the Flemish Community celebrations on July 11.

The officially-recognised annual holiday commemorates a battle between the Dutch-speaking region and France, during which largely inexperienced Flemish citizens were able to defeat a French army consisting of knights, as well as well-trained infantrymen.

In a press release seen by Brussels Signal, Vlaams Belaang party chairman Tom Van Grieken said that a free can of Gouden Leeuw, or “Golden Lion”, beer would be sent to the home addresses of everyone who ordered a free national flag from the party in the run-up to the celebrations.

The beer appears to be named after the Flanders region’s flag, which depicts a lion on a yellow or gold background.

“Anyone who requested a free lion flag will be treated to a free can of Golden Lion around July 11 this year,” Van Grieken said, describing the initiative as a thank-you to those who want to help shine a “spotlight” on the region’s important holiday.

However, Van Grieken added that those who did not order a flag could still end up receiving free beer, saying party members would also be looking to hand out more cans of the pilsner to other residents in the region.

“Whoever we happen to pass by and who also has a Flemish flag, we are also happy to treat you to a beer,” he said.

While the move has no doubt earned the party some good PR, Vlaams Belang’s effort to promote the Flanders flag may have more to do with identity than mere party politics, observers say.

Flanders and the Flemish people have long been vying for political dominance over the French-speaking Belgian region of Wallonia, the latter of which had traditionally been seen as wielding more political power.

Flanders – now much wealthier than Wallonia – has opted to support Right-leaning parties such as Vlaams Belang and the New Flemish Alliance, while the French-speaking region remains aligned with the Left.