Ricard López, 18 September 2021
Puigdemont, alone, in the European Parliament / EFE
Increasingly lonely and isolated in Europe. Nationalist radicalism and the strategy of permanent confrontation take their toll on Carles Puigdemont and his party, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat). So much so that even formations historically related to him no longer hesitate to express their differences in public. This has happened this Saturday with the Belgian independentists of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), who refuse to apply in their country a unilateral way like the one that the leaders of the Generalitat tried to impose in autumn 2017, with the illegal referendum of 1-O secession and subsequent DUI in Parliament.
Bart De Wever, mayor of Antwerp and president of the N-VA, has clearly expressed his refusal to declare the secession of the Belgian region from Flanders “unilaterally”, considering that “the strategy of the Catalan scenario” would lead the country to “chaos”.
Against the “hooliganism” of the Vlaams Belang
In an interview on Radio 1, De Wever thus rejected the political approach of the Vlaams Belang, a Flemish secessionist party close to the extreme right, which at the time expressed its support for the former post-convergent president, and for whose leader, Jan Jambon, Puigdemont has shown his cordiality on some occasions. For example, in October 2019, when he did not hesitate to shake his hand and take a picture with him after being elected President of Flanders, to the delight of his Head of Office, Josep Lluís Alay, who held the meeting stating that “in Flanders you always breathe support for the Catalan cause “.
But the radicalism of Puigdemont, Alay – news in recent days for their supposed Russian plot – and JxCat seems to have moved away that “support” of the Flemish secessionists towards the escapee and his thesis. At least, as far as the N-VA is concerned.
The “chaos” of the “Catalan strategy”
“They [the Vlaams Belang] speak of a unilateral declaration of independence. I call that the strategy of the Catalan scenario. That is, to put the country in chaos. And anyone with a little common sense knows what happens: there will be a new Vivaldi scene, “said De Wever. The leader thus alluded to the name by which the current Belgian government is known, made up of seven parties between social democrats, liberals and ecologists – both from the regions of Wallonia and Flanders – in addition to the Flemish Christian Democrats.
Instead of one-sidedness, De Wever’s goal is to achieve 25% of the vote in the 2024 elections so that the N-VA can lead a reform of the Belgian state that gives Flanders greater autonomy: “Only one N-VA strong can carry out the transition to an autonomous Flanders, “said the mayor of Antwerp, who has also refused to collaborate with the Vlaams Belang in that goal, because it is a formation in which” there is a lot of hooliganism ” .
In this sense, it should be remembered that the N-VA became one of the main supporters of Puigdemont when, after declaring the unilateral secession of Catalonia on October 27, 2017, he fled and settled in Belgium to avoid the action of the Spanish justice. An allied formation that has been faithful to him in recent years – rejecting, for example, that Puigdemont could not access the European Chamber due to his status as a fugitive in 2019 or, more recently, voting against his request last month. of March–. But this endorsement of the N-VA, according to the declarations of the mayor of Antwerp, is not unconditional. And Puigdemont’s unilateral strategy and JxCat’s ultra-nationalist approaches are far from being shared in Europe, even among its theoretical allies.V