Flemish nationalism is on the rise. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

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Poll reveals 40 per cent of Flemish want Belgian break-up

A near-record number of the Flemish public are now in favour of ending the country founded in 1830


Forty per cent of the Flemish population wants the country to break up, a new survey has found.

This is according to a poll backed by one of the biggest newsgroups in the country ahead of June’s national elections, which found that a near-record number of the public are now in favour of the split.

When asked if “Flanders should gain independence over time”, 40 per cent of the 1.1 million people who took part in the online survey responded yes, compared to just over 50 per cent who said no.

Over one-third of the respondents who opposed a break-up said they “felt strongly” about the issue, while more than one in five of those in favour said the same thing.

More are in favour of further devolution, with nearly 47 per cent saying they would like to see more powers stripped from federal authorities and handed to regional governments, while 40 per cent opposed it.

The findings come as part of HLN and VTM’s so-called “voting compass” project, an online tool aimed at gauging public opinion in the country ahead of the country’s regional, national and European elections, all set to take place on June 9.

Stripping down Belgium and keeping a skeleton version of the national Government is promoted by the N-VA party, which advocates for independence but is also open to settling on what it calls “confederalism”.

Only two parties in Flanders, Vlaams Belang and N-VA, are actively pro-independence, while all other parties oppose it – even though much of their voter bases also favour increased self-determination.

Left-wing parties in the region want to keep Belgium intact. Such a position may partly be down to political divides, with the Left frequently doing better in French-speaking Wallonia than in Flanders.

While not in favour of full independence, the centre-right Liberal Party (Open VLD) and the Christian Democrats (CD&V) have expressed interest in increased “confederalism”, while 40.1 per cent of the liberal voters and 41.3 per cent of the Christian Democrat voters want increased Flemish autonomy.