Flanders independent within a decade?

Do Flemings want Belgium to disappear? It's a question that is being asked abroad more and more nowadays. If a new VRT poll is to be believed this is not the case. A full three-quarters of respondents say that they don't want Belgium to become history. Among women this figure rises to 79%.

22% of those polled said that they supported an independent Flanders. Among voters of the far right Vlaams Belang party this rises to 56%. Only 37% of people who vote for the Flemish nationalist party N-VA, Belgium's biggest party, support Flemish independence as the ultimate goal. 61% of N-VA voters don't want Flanders to become independent.

This being said, many Flemings believe that independence is still on the cards: 30% of Flemings believe that Flanders will be an independent country in ten years’ time. 66% of those polled do not believe this will be the case, while 79% oppose Flemish independence within a decade.

These are some of the most striking results of opinion research conducted on behalf of the VRT TV programme Koppen and the daily Het Nieuwsblad.

Over a thousand people took part in the poll. They were contacted by phone. Each respondent represents 4,644 Flemish voters.

Flemish first and foremost?

The poll also looked at whether Flemings feel proud to be Belgian. Nearly three-quarters of the Flemings polled said that they are proud to be Belgian.

In all 73% of those polled said that they were proud to be Belgian. Among the young this figure rises to 80%. Among people from Limburg Province the result was 84% and among students a staggering 90%.

A quarter of those quizzed said that they were not proud to be Belgian. In Antwerp province this figure even rises to a chauvinistic 34%. People living in the big cities and the over 55's are less inclined to be proud of their Belgian heritage too.

Flemings who vote for long established parties like the Christian democrats, the socialists and the liberals are prouder of their Belgian heritage than most, while half the people who vote for the far right Vlaams Belang told pollsters that they are not proud to be Belgian. The result for supporters of the Flemish nationalist N-VA rises to 36%. This being said a full 51% of N-VA voters say that they are proud to be Belgian.

European identity takes third place

The poll also wanted to find out what people see as their core identity. 44% of the Flemings polled said that they felt Belgian first and foremost. 41% claimed that they felt Flemish firstly.

Only 13% of people told the pollsters that they felt their identity as a European was the most important thing.