Dewinter wants “A Flemish tea party”

The far-right figurehead Filip Dewinter has called for his Vlaams Belang party to become a Flemish version of the American Tea Party movement. Mr Dewinter was speaking in an interview on the VRT’s Sunday morning current affairs programme ‘De zevende dag’.

Support for Vlaams Belang has fallen from a high of 24% in the 2004 regional elections to 12.3% in this year’s federal elections.

The party has also been struck by internal divisions between those loyal to Mr Dewinter and those loyal to the former party leader Frank Vanhecke.

Earlier this week,  a Dewinter loyalist Bart Debie was sacked as the party’s security advisor after comments he made on Facebook.

Both Mr Debie and his girlfriend, the Sint-Jans Molenbeek (Greater Brussels) councillor Valéry Seyns were also thrown out of the party.

Mr Dewinter now hopes to restore his party’s fortunes by following the example of the right in the United States.

He believes that the bottom up structure of the Tea Party movement would strike a cord here in Flanders.

Mr Dewinter told ‘De zevende dag’ that street protests and mass meetings could compliment work done by his party’s MPs and local councillors.

Mr Dewinter added that there is a future for his party, pointing to the examples of the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland where the far right has made important gains.

He believes that there is room for a far-right party that scores between 10% and 15%.

This would be a party that would try to influence policy related to asylum and migration, security and the relationship between the language communities.