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New Flemish Alliance

The New Flemish Alliance (Dutch: Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA)[12] is a Flemish nationalist,[2] conservative[13][14][15] political party in Belgium, founded in 2001.[16] The N-VA is a regionalist,[17] separatist[18][19][20][21] movement that self-identifies with the promotion of civic nationalism.[22] It is part of the Flemish Movement; the party strives for the peaceful[23] and gradual secession of Flanders from Belgium.[24][third-party source needed] In recent years it has become the largest party of Flanders as well as of Belgium as a whole, and it participated in the 2014–18 Belgian Government until 9 December 2018.[25]

New Flemish Alliance

Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie
LeaderBart De Wever
FounderGeert Bourgeois
Founded2001
Split fromPeople's Union
HeadquartersKoningsstraat 47, bus 6
B-1000 Brussels
Membership (2018)Increase 45,000[1]
IdeologyFlemish nationalism[2]
Regionalism[3]
Separatism[4][5]
Conservatism[6]
Liberal conservatism[4][5]
Soft Euroscepticism[7]
Historical:
Pro-Europeanism[8][9]
Political positionCentre-right[10] to right-wing[11]
European affiliationEuropean Free Alliance
European Parliament groupEuropean Conservatives and Reformists
Colors     Black
     Gold
Chamber of Representatives
(Flemish seats)
25 / 87
Senate
(Flemish seats)
12 / 35
Flemish Parliament
35 / 124
Brussels Parliament
(Flemish seats)
3 / 17
European Parliament
(Flemish seats)
3 / 12
Flemish Provincial Councils
46 / 175
Website
www.n-va.be

Following the 2014 elections, the New Flemish Alliance is the largest Belgian / Flemish political party in the European Parliament, with its four MEPs sitting with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) parliamentary group.

The party is also known for its insistence on the exclusive use of Dutch, Flanders' sole official language, in dealings with government agencies, and for the promotion of the use of Dutch in Flanders as the language enabling integration.[clarification needed][22] The main objective of the party is to work on Flemish independence by gradually obtaining more powers for both Belgian communities separately.[26] Furthermore, it emphasizes its non-revolutionary character (as opposed to the far-right character of the Vlaams Belang) in order to legitimize increased Flemish autonomy.[27][third-party source needed] The N-VA advocates free-market economics, and their manifesto proposes immediate tax reductions to stimulate the economy.[28] The party previously advocated deepening ties with the European Union,[29][9] but have shifted in recent years to a more "eurorealist" or "eurocritical" stance.[7]

HistoryEdit

Fall of the People's UnionEdit

The N-VA stems from the People's Union (Dutch: Volksunie, VU), a Belgian political party and broad electoral alliance of Flemish nationalists. Towards the end of the 20th century, with a steadily declining electorate and the majority of the party's federalist agenda implemented, friction between several wings of the People's Union emerged. In the beginning of the 1990s, Bert Anciaux became party president and led the party in an ever more progressive direction, combining the social-liberal ideas of his new iD21-movement with the regionalist course of the People's Union. These experiments were opposed by the more traditional centre-right party base.

Tension rose towards the end of the decade, as Geert Bourgeois, foreman[clarification needed] of the traditional and centre-right nationalist wing, was elected chairman by party members, in preference to the incumbent and progressive Patrik Vankrunkelsven. Factions subsequently clashed multiple times, over the future course of the party and possible support for current state reform negotiations. On 13 October 2001 the party openly split into three factions: the progressive wing around Bert Anciaux, which would later become the Spirit party; the conservative nationalist wing around Geert Bourgeois; and a centrist group opposing the imminent split. A party referendum was held on the future of the party. The right wing gained a substantial plurality of 47% and inherited the party infrastructure.[30] Since no faction got an absolute majority, however, the name Volksunie could no longer be used.

Foundation and the election thresholdEdit

In the autumn of 2001, the New Flemish Alliance (Dutch: Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA) was founded. Seven members of parliament from the People's Union joined the new party. The new party council created a party manifesto and a statement of principles. The first party congress was held in May 2002, voting on a party program and permanent party structures. Geert Bourgeois was elected chairman.

The party participated in elections for the first time in the 2003 federal elections, but struggled with the election threshold of 5%. This threshold was only reached in West Flanders, the constituency of Geert Bourgeois. With only one federal representative and no senator, the party lost government funding and faced irrelevance.

Cartel with CD&VEdit

In February 2004, the N-VA entered into an electoral alliance, commonly known in Belgium as a cartel, with the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) party, the traditionally largest party, which was then in opposition. They joined forces in the regional elections in 2004 and won. Both parties joined the new Flemish government, led by CD&V leader Yves Leterme. Geert Bourgeois became a minister, and Bart De Wever became the new party leader in October 2004.

The cartel was briefly broken when the former right-wing liberal Jean-Marie Dedecker left the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open VLD) and entered the N-VA on behalf of the party executive. However, the party congress did not put Dedecker on the election list, instead preferring to continue the cartel with CD&V, who had strongly opposed placing him on a joint cartel list. Dedecker saw this as a vote of no confidence, and left the party after only 10 days, to form his own party, List Dedecker (LDD). Deputy leader Brepoels, who supported Dedecker, stepped down from the party board afterwards.

In the Belgian federal election of 2007 the CD&V/N-VA cartel won a major victory again, with a campaign focusing on good governance, state reform and the division of the electoral district Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde. The N-VA won five seats in the Chamber of Representatives and two seats in the Senate. Yves Leterme initiated coalition talks, which repeatedly stalled (see 2007–2008 Belgian government formation). On 20 March 2008, a new federal government was finally assembled. N-VA did not join this government, but gave its support pending state reform.

The cartel ended definitively on 24 September 2008, due to lack of progression in state reform matters and a different strategy on future negotiations. N-VA left the Flemish Government and gave up its support of Leterme at the federal level.

Mainstream partyEdit

In the regional elections of June 2009, N-VA won an unexpected 13% of the votes, making them the winner of the elections, along with their old cartel partner CD&V. N-VA subsequently joined the government, led by Kris Peeters (CD&V). Bart De Wever chose to remain party leader and appointed Geert Bourgeois and Philippe Muyters as ministers in the Flemish Government and Jan Peumans as speaker of the Flemish Parliament.

In December 2018, a political crisis emerged over whether to sign the Global Compact for Migration; N-VA was against this, whereas the other three parties in the federal government supported it. On 4 December 2018, the Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, announced that the issue would be taken to parliament for a vote.[31] On 5 December, parliament voted 106 to 36 in favor of backing the agreement.[32] Michel stated that he would endorse the pact on behalf of parliament, not on behalf of the divided government.[33] Consequently, N-VA quit the federal government; the other three parties continue as a minority government (Michel II).

During the 2019 federal elections the party again polled in first place in the Flemish region but saw a decline in vote share for the first time, falling to 25.6% of the Flemish vote.

Foundation and ideologyEdit

The New Flemish Alliance is a relatively young political party, founded in the autumn of 2001. Being one of the successors of the Volksunie (1954–2001), it is, however, based on an established political tradition. The N-VA works towards the same goal as its predecessor: to redefine Flemish nationalism in a contemporary setting. Party leader De Wever calls himself a conservative and a nationalist.[34]

The N-VA has previously argued for a Flemish Republic as a member state of a democratic European confederation. The party believes that the challenges of the 21st century can best be answered by strong communities and by well-developed international co-operation, a position which is reflected in their tagline: "Necessary in Flanders, useful in Europe." (Dutch: Nodig in Vlaanderen, nuttig in Europa.)

A label for the political orientation of the N-VA has been difficult to find as the party initially combined both left- and right-wing policies. In its 2009 election programme for Flanders, the N-VA described itself as economically liberal and ecologically green. The party supported public transport, open source software, renewable energy and taxing cars by the number of kilometres driven. It wanted more aid for developing countries and more compulsory measures to require that immigrants learn Dutch.[citation needed]

In recent years, the party has been described as moving ideologically further to the right under the leadership of Bart De Wever, with tougher stances on immigration, integration of minorities, security, crime and terrorism.[35][8] In 2018, the party opposed the Global Compact for Migration and subsequently withdrew its parliamentary support to the Belgian government in protest of its passing.[31] Some commentators have attributed these shifts as a response to a revival in support for the Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang, which also campaigned against the Migration Compact.[36]

In terms of foreign policy the N-VA’s stance on the European Union began as strongly pro-European in character and in 2010 the party called for “an ever stronger and more united Europe.” However, the party has since shifted to a position of soft Euroscepticism by no longer endorsing a vision of a federal Europe, calling for more democratic reform of the EU and arguing that economically unstable nations should leave the Eurozone.[8][9]

At European level, the N-VA is part of the European Free Alliance (EFA), a European political party consisting of regionalist, pro-independence and minority interest political parties, of which the People's Union was a founder member. During the 7th European Parliament of 2009–2014, the N-VA was a member of The Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) group in the European Parliament. However, following the 2014 European elections, the N-VA moved to the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.[37]

Party chairmenEdit

Name Portrait From To
1 Geert Bourgeois   2001 2004
2 Bart De Wever   2004 present

ElectorateEdit

In the federal elections in 2003 N-VA received 3.1% of the votes, but won only one seat in the federal parliament. In February 2004 they formed an electoral alliance (cartel) with the Christian Democratic and Flemish party (CD&V). The cartel won the elections for the Flemish Parliament. The N-VA received a total of 6 seats. However, on 21 September 2008 the N-VA lost its faith in the federal government and the following day minister Geert Bourgeois resigned. In a press conference he confirmed the end of the CD&V/N-VA cartel.

In the 2004 European elections, N-VA had 1 MEP elected as part of the cartel with CD&V.

In the 10 June 2007 federal elections, the cartel won 30 out of 150 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 9 out of 40 seats in the Senate.

In the regional elections of 11 June 2009, N-VA (now on its own after the split of the cartel with CD&V) won an unexpected 13% of the votes, making them the winner of the elections along with their former cartel partner. In the 2009 European elections held on the same day, the N-VA had one MEP elected.

In the 2010 federal elections, N-VA became the largest party of Flanders and of Belgium altogether.

In the 2014 federal elections, N-VA increased their dominant position, taking votes and seats from the far-right Flemish Interest. In the simultaneous 2014 regional elections and 2014 European elections, the N-VA also became the largest party in the Flemish Parliament and in the Belgian delegation to the European Parliament.

In the 2019 federal elections the party remained in first place in the Chamber of Representatives, European Parliament and Flemish Parliament, but saw a slight decline in vote share for the first time, obtaining 16.03% of the votes in the Federal Parliament. This was in part due to a sudden upsurge in support for the Flemish Interest.

 
The six biggest Flemish political parties and their results for the House of Representatives (Kamer). From 1978 to 2014, in percentages of the total vote in Belgium.

Electoral resultsEdit

Federal Parliament (Federaal Parlement)Edit

Chamber of Representatives (Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers)
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of language
group vote
No. of
overall seats won
No. of language
group seats won
+/– Government
2003 201,399 3.1%
1 / 150
1 / 88
in opposition
2007 1,234,950 18.5% 29.6% (1st)
5 / 150
5 / 88
  4 in opposition
In cartel with CD&V; 30 seats won by CD&V/N-VA.
2010 1,135,617 17.40% 27.8% (1st)
27 / 150
27 / 88
  22 in opposition
2014 1,366,073 20.32% (1st)
33 / 150
33 / 87
  6 in coalition (2014-2018)
in opposition (since 2018)
2019 1,086,787 16.03% (1st)
25 / 150
25 / 87
  8 TBD
Senate (Senaat)
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of language
group vote
No. of
overall seats won
No. of language
group seats won
+/–
2003 200,273 3.1%
0 / 71
0 / 41
2007 1,287,389 19.4% 31.4% (1st)
2 / 71
2 / 41
  2
In cartel with CD&V; 14 seats won by CD&V/N-VA.
2010 1,268,780 19.6% 31.7% (1st)
14 / 71
14 / 41
  12
2014 N/A N/A N/A (1st)
12 / 60
12 / 35
  2
2019 N/A N/A N/A (1st)
9 / 60
9 / 35
  3

Regional parliamentsEdit

Brussels ParliamentEdit

Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of language
group vote
No. of
overall seats won
No. of language
group seats won
+/– Government
2004 10,482 16.8% (4th)
0 / 89
0 / 17
in opposition
In cartel with CD&V; 3 seats won by CD&V/N-VA
2009 2,586 5.0% (6th)
1 / 89
1 / 17
  1 in opposition
2014 9,085 17.0% (4th)
3 / 89
3 / 17
  2 in opposition
2019 9.177 18.0% (4th)
3 / 89
3 / 17
in opposition

Flemish ParliamentEdit

Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats won
+/– Government
2004 1,060,580 26.1 (1st)
6 / 124
in coalition
In cartel with CD&V; 35 seats won by CD&V/N-VA.
2009 537,040 13.1 (5th)
16 / 124
  10 in coalition
2014 1,339,946 31.88% (1st)
43 / 124
  27 in coalition
2019 1,052,252 24.8% (1st)
35 / 124
  8 in coalition

European ParliamentEdit

Election year No. of
Belgian votes
% of
Belgian vote
% of language
group vote
No. of
Belgian seats won
No. of language
group seats won
+/–
2004 1,131,119 17.4% 28.2% (1st)
1 / 24
1 / 14
In cartel with CD&V; 4 seats won by CD&V/N-VA
2009 402,545 6.13% 9.88% (#5)
1 / 22
1 / 13
  0
2014 1,123,363 16.85% 26.67% (1st)
4 / 21
4 / 12
  3

RepresentationEdit

European PoliticsEdit

N-VA holds four seats in the eighth European Parliament (2014–2019) for the Dutch-speaking electoral college.

European Parliament
Name In office Parliamentary group
Ralph Packet 2018–present European Conservatives and Reformists
Helga Stevens 2014–present
Anneleen Van Bossuyt 2015–present
Mark Demesmaeker (delegation leader) 2013–present

Federal PoliticsEdit

Chamber of Representatives (2014–2019)
Constituency Name Notes
  Antwerp Rita Bellens
  East Flanders Siegfried Bracke
  East Flanders Peter Buysrogge
  West Flanders An Capoen
  Flemish Brabant Inez De Coninck
  East Flanders Peter Dedecker
  West Flanders Koenraad Degroote
  Antwerp Zuhal Demir
  Antwerp Peter De Roover Floor leader
  Antwerp Bart De Wever
  Antwerp Sophie De Wit
  East Flanders Christoph D'Haese
  West Flanders Daphne Dumery
  Flemish Brabant Theo Francken
  West Flanders Rita Gantois
  Limburg (Belgium) Karolien Grosemans
  Antwerp Jan Jambon
  Limburg (Belgium) Werner Janssen
  Limburg (Belgium) Peter Luykx
  Antwerp Koen Metsu [nl]
  East Flanders Sarah Smeyers
  Flemish Brabant Jan Spooren
  East Flanders Goedele Uyttersprot
  Antwerp Yoleen Van Camp
  Limburg (Belgium) Steven Vandeput
  Antwerp Rob Van de Velde
  Antwerp Valerie Van Peel
  Flemish Brabant Kristien Van Vaerenbergh
  West Flanders Jan Vercammen
  West Flanders Brecht Vermeulen
  Antwerp Bert Wollants
Senate (2014–2019)
Type Name Notes
Community Senator Geert Bourgeois
Community Senator Cathy Coudyser
Community Senator Annick De Ridder
Community Senator Lieve Maes
Community Senator Philippe Muyters
Community Senator Jan Peumans
Community Senator Elke Sleurs
Community Senator Pol Van Den Driessche
Community Senator Wilfried Vandaele
Community Senator Karl Vanlouwe
Co-opted senator Jan Becaus
Co-opted senator Pol Van Den Driessche

Regional politicsEdit

Flemish Government Bourgeois (2014–2019)
Name Function
Geert Bourgeois Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister for Foreign Policy and Tourism
Liesbeth Homans Vice Minister-President and Flemish Minister for Local Government, Poverty Reduction, Housing, Civic Integration, Equal Opportunities, Cities and Social Economy
Ben Weyts Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, the Brussels Periphery and Animal Welfare
Philippe Muyters Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation, Science Policy and Sport
Flemish Parliament (2014–2019)
Constituency Name Notes
  Antwerp Vera Celis replacing Liesbeth Homans, who became minister in the Flemish Government
  Limburg (Belgium) Jan Peumans
  West Flanders Bert Maertens replacing Geert Bourgeois, who became minister in the Flemish Government
  Flemish Brabant Peter Persyn replacing Ben Weyts, who became minister in the Flemish Government
  East Flanders Matthias Diependaele Floor leader
  Brussels-Capital Region Karl Vanlouwe
  West Flanders Ann Soete
  Limburg (Belgium) Lies Jans
  East Flanders Elke Sleurs
  Flemish Brabant Nadia Sminate
  Antwerp Kris Van Dijck
  East Flanders Andries Gryffroy
  Flemish Brabant Piet De Bruyn
  Limburg (Belgium) Grete Remen
  Antwerp Annick De Ridder
  West Flanders Wilfried Vandaele
  Flemish Brabant Lorin Parys
  West Flanders Axel Ronse
  Antwerp Marc Hendrickx
  East Flanders Marius Meremans
  Limburg (Belgium) Jos Lantmeeters
  Limburg (Belgium) Jelle Engelbosch
  Flemish Brabant Lieve Maes
  West Flanders Cathy Coudyser
  Antwerp Paul Van Miert
  East Flanders Karim Van Overmeire
  West Flanders Björn Anseeuw
  Flemish Brabant Bart Nevens
  East Flanders Ingeborg De Meulemeester
  Antwerp Manuela Van Werde
  Flemish Brabant Danielle Godderis-T'Jonck
  East Flanders Sabine Vermeulen
  Flemish Brabant Willy Segers
  Antwerp Herman Wynants
  East Flanders Miranda Van Eetvelde
  Antwerp Kathleen Krekels
  East Flanders Koen Daniëls replacing Lieven Dehandschutter, who remains Mayor of Sint-Niklaas
  Antwerp Jan Hofkens replacing Philippe Muyters, who became minister in the Flemish Government
  Antwerp Peter Wouters
  Antwerp Ludo Van Campenhout
  Antwerp Sofie Joosen
  Antwerp Jan Van Esbroeck
  Antwerp Tine Van der Vloet
Brussels Regional Parliament (2014–2019)
Name Notes
Liesbet Dhaene
Cieltje Van Achter
Johan Van den Driessche

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

  Media related to Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie at Wikimedia Commons