Researchers from four universities have established a correlation between the Flemish attitude towards wartime collaboration and their position towards separatism.
A study released on Friday, the 75th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany, shows that there is a correlation in Flanders between the vote in favour of separatist parties and leniency towards wartime collaboration. Researchers from four universities (UCLouvain, ULB, KULeuven and UGent) were able to show that “the more Flemish are in favour of amnesty for former collaborators, the less they defend unification between the country’s communities,” sums up Pierre Bouchat of UCLouvain. In other words, “the more they support amnesty, the more they want a radical separation” between French and Flemish speakers. But no such correlation has been established among French speakers.
The study can be broken down into three levels of analysis. Firstly, the attitude of Belgians towards wartime collaboration. Unsurprisingly, in their collective memory, the Flemish are more lenient towards wartime collaboration than French speakers. Second, we find that “the voters of the N-VA (a Flemish nationalist, right-wing party – note translator (for methodological reasons, those of Vlaams Belang were not analysed, NdlR) are more in favour of amnesty for former collaborators than voters of other parties”. What is also striking is that voters of any Flemish party are more lenient than those of any French-speaking party, which supports the first level of analysis.
Finally, thirdly, we come to this correlation between the view of collaboration and separatist convictions. “Among the Flemish, the past always has an impact on the future” (on the future of the country), concludes Pierre Bouchat.
The researchers also point out that, in general, the Flemish, including voters in the N-VA, do not see wartime collaboration in a positive way. Moreover, more Flemish people overall support a stronger unification of the two communities than separatism.