Separatism in Ideology and Activities of Flemish Right-Wing Populist Parties

Petr V. Oskolkov – lecturer at the Department of Regional Aspects of World Politics, School of World Politics, Lomonosov Moscow State University. 119991 Moscow, 1-51 Leninskie Gory, room 602. E-mail:
Вся статья: 

DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2017-5-56-169-182 (Read the article in PDF)

The article is devoted to the issue of the Flemish separatism, including autonomism and independism (the latter aiming at the creation of own power center), and how it is reflected in the programs of the Flemish right-wing populist parties. The author presents a brief history of the phenomenon; Flemish separatism is seen in the context of the European integration and in comparison with other separatist movements. Having been articulated politically in 1990s, Flemish separatism is now an inherent part of the right-wing populist party programs: of the Flemish Bloc program (since 2004 it is Flemish Interest) as an independence appeal, and of the New Flemish Alliance program as a call for further state reforming, aiming at the creation of a confederative system. A number of Flanders independence plans have been elaborated, whose authors posit that it is not Flanders that should quit the federation, but Belgium should officially disintegrate into two parts (because only in this case the French-speaking part of the country will not become the sole heir of the federation). The separatists usually see the EU as an institutional barrier; however, its role is acknowledged in the strengthening of regions’ position in the entire Europe. The elements that should keep the Belgian federation intact are not de facto functioning properly; however, gaining full independence would only fix the de jure already existing administrative and political split, and would also create a number of administrative problems. That is why the percentage of the Flemish independence proponents has declined recently, and the Belgian federation is now in a certain “break-even point” that can be distorted by the right-wing populist parties.

Key words: Flanders, Belgium, separatism, independism, Flemish Interest, New Flemish Alliance, right-wing populism, nationalism, regionalism.

1. Biriukov S.V. Bel’giiskii krizis i «Evropa regionov» [European crisis and “a Europe of regions”]. Svobodnaia mysl’, 2009, no. 8, pp. 39–52 (in Russian).
2. Bychkov M.A. Evoliutsiia flamandskogo natsionalizma [Evolution of Flemish nationalism]. NITs «Sotsiosfera» – Social Sphere, 2011. Available at: (Accessed 23.04.2017) (In Russian).
3. Kuchuk Iu. Bel’giia: ot separatizma k federalizmu (evoliutsiia federalizma v Bel’gii) [Belgium: from separatism to federalism (evolution of federalism in Belgium)]. Belorusskii zhurnal mezhdunarodnogo prava i mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii – Belarusian Journal of International Law and International Relations, 2004, no. 4, pp. 61–64 (in Russian).
4. Ormonbekov Zh.T. Edinstvo v mnogoobrazii: primenenie evropeiskogo postulata v realizatsii inkliuzivnoi iazykovoi politiki v Bel’gii i Niderlandakh [Unity in diversity: implementation of the European principle in realization of inclusive language policy in Belgium and the Netherlands]. Kazakhstan v mezhdunarodnykh protsessakh – Kazakhstan in International Processes, 2015, no. 1, pp. 49–63 (in Russian).
5. Popov F.A. Geografiia setsessionizma v sovremennom mire [Geography of secessionism in contemporary world]. Moscow, Novyi khronograf Publ., 2012. 684 p. (In Russian).
6. Tevdoi-Burmuli A.I. Flamandskii separatizm vchera i segodnia [Flemish separatism yesterday and today]. Doklady Instituta Evropy – Reports of Institute of Europe, 2015, no. 318, pp. 77–84 (in Russian).
7. Chetverikova O.N. Strategiia balkanizatsii Evropy: etnosy i regiony v planakh evropeiskogo stroitel’stva [Strategy of balkanization of Europe: ethnic groups and regions in European unifying plans]. Rossiia XXI vek – Russia 21st Century, 2007, no. 5, pp. 74–107 (in Russian).
8. Aernoudt R. Wallonie – Flandre: je t’aime moi non plus [Wallonia – Flanders: I love you, and I no more]. Zellik, Roularta Books Publ., 2006. 223 p.
9. Blondel V., Krings G., Thomas I. Regio’s en grenzen van mobiele telefonie in België en in het Brussels stadsgewest [Regions and borders of cellphone industry in Belgium and in Brussels capital region]. Brussels Studies, 2010, no. 42, pp. 1–12.
10. Deborsu C. Dag Vlaanderen! Hoe Walen écht leven en denken [Buy Flanders! How Walloons really live and think]. Gent, Borgerhoof & Lamberigts Publ., 2011. 400 p.
11. Grabow K., Hartleb F. Mapping Present-Day Right-Wing Populists. Exposing the Demagogues: Right-Wing and National Populists Parties in Europe. Brussels, FES Publ., 2013, pp. 13–44.
12. Mudde C. The Populist Radical Right: A Pathological Normalcy. West European Politics, 2010, vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 1167–1186.
13. Van Overmeire K. Vlaanderen onafhankelijk: hoe moet dat dan? [Flanders independent: how to arrange it?] Brussel, Egmont Publ., 2007. 159 p.
14. Van Velthoven P. Franstaligen tegen Vlamingen: hoe België als natie mislukte [The French against the Flemish: how Belgium failed as a nation]. Soesterberg: Aspekt, 2012. 222 p.
15. Vermeiren R. België: de onmogelijke opdracht [Belgium: Mission impossible]. Kalmthout, Pelckmans, 2014. 216 p.