Posted on September 15, 2004

Blok Losing Cultural Clout

Expatica, Sep. 14

BRUSSELS — The Vlaams Blok, Belgium’s far right Flemish party, is set to lose out on key cultural posts because of its racist views, it was reported on Tuesday.

Party representatives will likely be squeezed out of a series of institutions that were previously obliged to give Vlaams Blok members a seat on their management committees, public service broadcaster RTBF said.

The permanent national committee of the cultural pact — the body that oversees philosophical and ideological balance in Belgium’s state subsidised cultural organisations — has already decided to uphold a decision to deprive the party of its representation on the board of the Ancienne Belgique, one of Brussels’ most popular pop and rock music venues.

The decision follows a ruling by a Ghent court in April that the Vlaams Blok had broken Belgian anti-racism laws by consistently using racist and xenophobic propaganda.

The Blok immediately announced it would seek to have the ruling overturned, but it stands to lose EUR 4 million a year in state subsidies if its appeal is unsuccessful.

For more than 30 years, the national committee has been charged with ensuring the representation of all political parties on the boards of Belgium’s cultural institutions.

The committee received a complaint from a furious Vlaams Blok in June 2002 that it had not been granted a seat on the administrative council of the Ancienne Belgique.

The complaint was thrown out this week after the committee decided the cultural pact could only be extended to parties representing democratic principles.

After studying recent publications by the extreme right party, the committee concluded that the Blok was inspired “in a clear and repeated way by racist and xenophobic motivations.”

The Blok is a party that “seriously compromises the values that prevail in a free and democratic pluralist society,” the committee said.