Right-wing Populism and the Radical Centre: Explaining the Electoral Growth of the Vlaams Blok in Belgium

  • Patrick de Vos

Abstract

This chapter engages with mainstream explanations of the electoral growth of the xenophobic and separatist Flemish far-right party, Vlaams Blok, in Belgium from the late 1980s onward. The issue of right-wing populism in Flanders is introduced by briefly outlining the genesis of the current political situation, and subsequently explaining the two dominant political positions held by the Vlaams Blok, separatist nationalism and authoritarian xenophobic populism, as they were articulated in Party manifestos, such as Immigration: the Time Bomb Is Ticking!’,2 the 1999 electoral platform ‘Masters in Our House’, and the current programme summary ‘A Future for Flanders’. Thereupon I will summarize and problematize the two foremost types of analysis that have been put forward to account for the electoral upsurge of the Vlaams Blok, and relate them to strategies employed by the mainstream democratic elites to marginalize this party. From this, it is argued that the current dominant frame of thinking is missing a crucial point: for instance, that the rise of an ultra-nationalist and authoritarian-populist party in Flanders, as elsewhere in Europe, can be better understood in the context of a hegemonic consensus around the political centre, resulting from an ideological convergence between the established political parties, characterized by the disappearance of antagonism. Such an alternative account has been developed over the years by Chantai Mouffe, and I shall first summarize and expound her thesis, and explain how and why it is applicable to the case of the Vlaams Blok.

Keywords

Depression Europe Sine Defend Hate 

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick de Vos
    • 1
  1. 1.Belgian Ghent UniversityBelgium

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