The New Flemish Alliance party in favor of a split between Belgium's Dutch and French speaking population has claimed victory in national elections, deepening the divide between the two Belgian camps.
Belgian voters have lent their support to the NVA in a big way
Belgium faces the prospect of a growing rift along language lines after a Flemish separatist party declared itself the winner of parliamentary elections.
The Dutch-language nationalist New Flemish Alliance party (NVA) appears to have won a historic victory. Interior ministry projections show that the party would have 27 seats in the lower house of parliament – one more than the French-speaking Socialist (PS).
The NVA favors an eventual split between the Dutch-speaking Flanders region and the French-speaking Wallonia.
De Wever has claimed victory
Head of the party Bart De Wever declared the NVA winners as supporters chanted the slogan "Long Live a Free Flanders."
"The NVA has won the election today," said De Wever. "We stand before you with a party that has around 30 percent (of Flemish votes)."
Traditional rivals fall behind
The projected figures would make the NVA the first separatist party to win more seats than traditional rivals, who wish to keep the 180-year-old state intact.
"The people of Flanders have voted for change. We will not disappoint them," De Wever said. He added that Flemish nationalists had to "extend a hand to francophones," adding that "we need to change the state together."
Together with the Flemish Socialists, the PS could still form the largest group in parliament, making PS leader Elio Di Rupo the next prime minister.
PS leader Elio Di Rupo could become the country's next prime minister
De Wever is reluctant to be the premier of a united Belgium and has said that he is not opposed to the country having its first French-speaking premier since 1974 – provided that this would bring more power to Flanders.
Several parties needed
The nature of Belgium's parliamentary system, under which parties divide on linguistic as well as policy grounds, means at least four parties will have to agree to form a coalition.
Tension between the wealthier Flanders in the north and the poorer French-speaking Walloons in the south has existed for decades and has led to continual problems in the national government.
The latest elections were called after the coalition government collapsed in April over a language dispute. The snap elections came a year ahead of schedule after the Belgian government fell in a struggle between French and Dutch-speaking parties.
Author: Matt Zuvela, Richard Connor (afp/dpa)
Editor: Kyle James
A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a major critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen is accused of leading a terrorist plot to seize power.
Children of foreign parents living in Germany no longer have to choose a citizenship before they turn 23. But remaining a dual citizen is not automatic, as new legislation sets conditions that must be fulfilled.
Gay and childless heterosexual German couples seeking to have children by non-traditional means have gained a small victory. If the surrogacy is done abroad, authorities must recognize the couple as the legal parents.
We may know him best as the devilishly handsome provocateur of films such as "Ocean's Eleven" but Brad Pitt may be about to receive a somewhat more salubrious title - the "Keeper of the German Language" for 2014.