Three-quarters of Flemings say that immigrants should learn Dutch and adopt Flemish culture
‘De Stemming’, a survey of over 2,000 Flemings carried out by Antwerp University and Brussels’ Dutch-medium university VUB on behalf of VRT News and the daily ‘De Staandard’ has found that a large majority believe that newcomers should Dutch and adopt Flemish culture. Meanwhile, 70% of those surveyed are in favour of the carrying out of field tests to help combat discrimination on the labour market.
1. 76% in favour of cultural assimilation
A large majority of those that took part in our survey said that they are in favour of a so-called “assimilation policy” whereby newcomers from non-western countries have to adapt to the language, norms and customs here. 76% of those surveyed said that newcomers should adopt Flemish culture to a maximum.
Those that vote for the far-right party Vlaams Belang, the nationalist party N-VA, but also the Christian democrat party CD&V and the socialist party Vooruit share this view the most, while those that vote for the green party Groen, the far-left PVDA and the liberal party Open VLD attach slightly less importance to this. Nevertheless, 57% percent of green party supporters are also favour maximum assimilation.
When respondents were asked what is the most important factor for someone to be considered truly Flemish or Belgian, 80% of them said that being able to speak Dutch and respecting the political institutions and laws of our country are the essential factors.
73% of Vlaams Belang voters believe that a person needs to have been born here in order to be considered to be Flemish. The same is true of just 28% of people that vote green.
When asked whether it should be made more difficult to obtain Belgian nationality 66% of those questioned said that this should be the case. These figures rises to 90% among those that vote for the far-right party Vlaams Belang and 88% moung those that vote for the Flemish nationalist party N-VA.
2. Vast majority in favour of field tests to combat discrimination on the labour market
68% of Flemings say that they are in favour of field tests being carried out to help combat discrimination on the labour market. This is especially true among those that vote for left-of-centre parties.
However, 58% of those that vote for the (centre-right) nationalist party N-VA are in favour of field testing. Most surprising of all perhaps is that 56% of those that vote for the far-right party Vlaams Belang also share this view.
3. Majority favours stricter migration policy
Of those survey only around 30% think that the country should take in more refugees. Only among green party supporters is there a majority (56%) that is in favour of receiving more refugees than is currently already the case. Most respondents therefore want migration policy to be tightened.
On a scale of 0 (less strict) to 10 (more strict), the average respondent’s score is 6.8. This is 8.5 among Vlaams Belang voters and 7.4 among those that vote N-VA. At 6.2, those that vote for the socialist party too are generally in favour of stricter rules on migration.
It is striking that 57% of those surveyed think that the number of asylum applications has increased in recent years. Among the voters of Vlaams Belang, 78% believe that this is the case. However, the number of asylum applications has remained more or stable. There were 11,010 such application in 2018, 10,226 in 2019, 5,766 in 2020 (much lower due to pandemic related travel restrictions) and 11,297.
Less Belgian and more Flemish
De Stemming also asked those surveyed about their own identity. Do they feel Belgian, Flemish or a bit of both? 44% of respondents said that they feel both Belgian and Flemish in equal measure. This is more than in a previous survey carried out in 2007.
Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents that say that they only feel Belgian and not at all Flemish has halved from 14% in 2007 to 7% now. The group that feels more Belgian than Flemish has also shrunk from 17% in 2007 to 12% now.
10% of respondents said that they feel more Flemish than Belgian, up from 7% in 2007.