Gathered in Antwerp for the New Year, Vlaams Belang feels like growing wings

It is in an Antwerp brewery that the Flemish far right organized this Sunday morning its New Year reception. Hundreds of activists had made the trip, mostly long-time members who do not imagine voting for another left. “Why ? It’s really a silly question, quips an activist. We are Flemish, so why don’t we vote for Vlaams Belang?“Even if it’s a racist party?”I don’t feel racist, absolutely not“, she replies.”I have been a member of Vlaams Belang for over thirty years, and I am married to an Asian woman, argues another activist. We are not racist, not at all.

Activists have morale: 18% in the last elections, and first party in the polls. Filip Dewinter, president of the Antwerp local for 26 years, will hand over to Sam Van Roy, 33, the new strong man from Antwerp. He dreams of seeing his party take the reins of power. “We are Flemish nationalists, we are democrats and we are for an independent Flanders, therefore new elections must lead us to an independent Flemish state and therefore a free Flanders“, he says.

The uninhibited Flemish far right feels winged. On the tables, however, nothing has changed: next to the old Vlaams Blok stickers, still the same anti-Islam books.

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