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Essay: Populism in Belgium

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  • Subject area(s): Miscellaneous essays
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
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  • Published: 23 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 349 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 2 (approx)

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Vlaams Blok, established in 1978, operated on a platform of law and order, anti-immigration (with particular focus on Islamic immigration), and secession of the Flanders region of the country. The secession was originally planned to end in the annexation of Flanders by the culturally and linguistically similar Netherlands until the plan was abandoned due to the multiculturalism in that country. In the elections to the Flemish Parliament in June 2004, the party received 24.15% of the vote, within less than 2% of being the largest party. However, in November of the same year, the party was ruled illegal under anti-racism law for, among other things, advocating schools segregated between citizens and immigrants.
In less than a week, the party was re-established under the name Vlaams Belang, with a near-identical ideology. It advocates for immigrants wishing to stay to adopt the Flemish culture and language. Despite some accusations of anti-Semitism from Belgium’s Jewish population, the party has demonstrated a staunch pro-Israel stance as part of its opposition to Islam. With 18 of 124 seats, Vlaams Belang lead the opposition in the Flemish Parliament, and also have 11 of the 150 seats in the Belgian House of Representatives.
In the picture you can see in blue European national parliaments with representatives from right-wing populist parties in 2013. In dark blue, parties who are in the government
Left-wing populism is a political ideology which combines left-wing politics and populist rhetoric and themes. The rhetoric often consists of anti-elitist sentiments, opposition to the system and speaking for the “common people”. Usually the important themes for left-wing populists include anti-capitalism, social justice, pacifism and anti-globalization, whereas class society ideology or socialist theory is not as important as it is to traditional left-wing parties. The criticism of capitalism and globalization is linked to anti-Americanism which has increased in the left populist movements as a result of unpopular US military operations, especially those in the Middle East.
In Europe there are not many extreme left wing parties. It was for me easier to find examples of right wing parties. Also I’m more interested is right-wing parties because I believe more in their views.

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