"Flemings and Francophones are not living on a different planet"

Walloons and Flemings don't really think differently about hot issues that are part of the present election campaign. This can be concluded by comparing the results of the latest "stemtest" (a Voting Match tool). They have similar opinions about limiting unemployment benefits in time, royal spending or banning wild-cat strikes.

After the Vote Match application for Flanders and Brussels, the public broadcaster VRT and De Standaard launched a federal test today. The tool will enable voters to make up their minds about who to vote for in the federal elections, and only includes issues and proposals that are specifically related to the federal level.

Before the test was launched, it was presented to 1,000 Walloon and 1,000 Flemish voters deemed representative for the whole electorate. The results show that Dutch and French speakers in Belgium "are not living on a different planet", as the VRT's political expert Bart Verhulst put it in the 1 o'clock TV news. "However, this does not mean that they think the same about everything."

Campaign issues: what do people think?

  • All Flemish parties, except for SP.A, find that a minimum rail service should be guaranteed when there is strike action at Belgian Rail. Flemings (87%) and Walloons (85%) agree that this should indeed be the case.
  • Another issue is the budget earmarked for the royal family (photo). Despite Walloons being traditionally more royalist, a majority thinks that royal grants should be further reduced (74%), agreeing on the subject with Flemish voters (83%).
  • One idea popping up regularly is to limit unemployment benefits in time: the Flemish liberals and nationalists want to impose a maximum of two years to cut costs. People are divided on the subject at both sides of the language divide. 54% of the Flemings agrees, with 52% of Walloon voters rejecting the idea.
  • Jobless people losing out on their benefit, can enjoy a living wage. However, the idea is to make them work for their money, obliging them to do some sort of community work to deserve their living wage. 80% of the Flemish respondents supports this idea, which also enjoys a majority below the language divide with a score of 72%.
  • Cutting unemployment benefits in time is not the only proposal put forward by both Open VLD and N-VA. They also want to get rid of the automatic wage indexation system, under which people's salaries automatically go up when life gets more expensive. The Flemish resistance among voters equals 64%, in Wallonia this is 71%.
  • Extra taxes for rich people is an item only put forward by the greens and socialists in Flanders, but enjoys the support of 75% of the Flemings. 81% of the Walloon respondents agrees.
  • Should company cars be subject to a harsher tax regime? Only Groen supports the idea in Flanders, but a majority of both Flemings (54%) and Walloons (59%) gives it thumbs up.
  • People from outside the EU should be allowed here to fill up vacancies in bottleneck professions: 64% of the Flemings are against, but in Wallonia this number reaches 77%.

(Click here for the Vote Match application. The different political views include those of the Flemish nationalists (N-VA), Christian democrats (CD&V), liberals (Open VLD), socialists (SP.A), far-right Vlaams Belang and the green party Groen)