BRUSSELS – A recent documentary “Questions à la Une” acts as whistleblower against the progression of the Belgian extreme right.
French-speaking Belgian TV and radio organisation RTBF recently broadcast a worrisome documentary on the growing popularity of the extreme-right party, the Vlaams Belang, in the Flemish part of the country.
A popularity, according to La Libre Belgique, that may bring the Vlaams Belang to victory and which is grossly underestimated in French-speaking Belgium.
Christophe Deborsu’s documentary is well structured. The investigation starts with an anecdote surrounding a street name and ends with the Vlaams Belang’s highly effective campaign strategy.
The documentary reveals for instance that the town of Breendonk was the first Belgian town to have a concentration camp, which claimed the lives of 180 people in the Second World War.
Breendonk is also one of the five Belgian towns which still has a Cyriel Verschaeve street, named after a Belgian clergyman and writer who was condemned for collaboration with the Nazis during the Second World War.
The Flemish priest had hopes that the Germans would “clean” Belgium of its French-speaking citizens. The mayor of Breendonk does not see the point of renaming the street.
Capitalising on this ambiguous relationship with the past, the Vlaams Belang has rapidly grown popular since it became an official party; from one percent of the vote in 1981 to 24 percent in 2005.
Deborsu’s documentary shows how the party recruits and trains activists in all social spheres, relatively poor Belgians who believe immigrants to be responsible for their difficulties and richer Belgians afraid of loosing their wealth.
In Antwerp the Vlaams Belang’s offices have replaced the municipal facilities as a meeting point, which further demonstrates the effectiveness of the party’s campaign.
In Schoten, a municipality located in the province of Antwerp, the VB has acquired 35 percent of the votes since the last elections, not without the help of a blond and beautiful ex-Miss Belgium and a team of well-educated students, reports La Libre Belgique.
This politically active youth movement recruits and sells the Vlaams Belang’s ideology in the streets, bars and clubs.
The documentary presents the president of the Christian Democrat and Flemish CD&V of Schoten, Harrie Hendrickx, saying “I never said no” when asked if a coalition of CD&V and the Vlaams Belang is possible.
The documentary also mentions an elected CD&V member who recently changed to the Vlaams Belang party and questions if he will be the first of many.