People's Union (Belgium)
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People's Union Belgium

People's Union (Dutch: Volksunie, VU) was a Flemish nationalist[1][2][3]political party in Belgium, formed in 1954 as a successor to the Christian Flemish People's Union.[5]


The party initially proved successful and had members elected to the Chamber of Representatives (five) and the Senate (two) of the Belgian Federal Parliament in 1961. The party continued to grow in stature and reached the 11.0% at the national level in 1978 elections, gaining 21 representatives. Ideologically, the Volksunie preferred to position itself around the centre and saw itself as a coalition of various shades of Flemish thought as a big tent party with the objective of pursuing further autonomy, national identity and political freedom for the Flemish region. The party contained members from the left, right and centre ground of the political spectrum and different from other Belgian parties by putting Flemish nationalism at the forefront of its image and platform as opposed to a right or left of centre identity.

The acceptance of federalism in place of separatism by the VU in the 1970s did not sit well with the party's right-wing and separatist wing, and a split became inevitable, particularly after the party entered the coalition government of Leo Tindemans (CVP, Christian-Democrat). The right-wing separatist and national conservative faction broke away and organized itself in the Vlaams Blok, becoming a much stronger political force and surpassing Volksunie at the beginning of the 1990s (6.6% against VU's 5.9% in 1991 elections).

The Volksunie was a member of the European Free Alliance.[6][7]

Volksunie continued its decline (5.6% in 1999 elections against the 9.9% of the Blok), with the internal divisions between the right-wing and left-wing members re-emerging in 2001. The right wing won a large plurality at a party referendum, with 47 percent.[8] However, while it inherited Volksunie's structure, it did not take the Volksunie name due to falling short of a majority and not being allowed to use the party name under Belgian electoral law. Instead, it reconstituted itself as a new party, and re-registered itself as the New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, or N-VA). The left wing broke off and became Spirit, while the liberal members joined the Flemish Liberals and Democrats. The two parties proceeded to form new electoral alliances, known in Belgium as cartels, with the N-VA allying with Christian Democratic and Flemish and Spirit with the Socialist Party - Different. These cartels broke up in 2008 as the parties continued their decline, until the N-VA experienced a sudden resurgence in 2009, eventually becoming the largest party in Flanders and going on to participate as a coalition partner in the Belgian government, while Spirit ceased to exist, merging with Groen.

Electoral results

Federal Parliament

Chamber of Representatives

Election year # of overall votes % of overall vote % of language
group vote
# of overall seats won # of language
group seats won
+/- Government Notes
1954 113,632 2.2 (#6)
in opposition
1958 104,823 2.0 (#5)
Steady 0 in opposition
1961 182,407 3.1 (#4)
Increase 4 in opposition
1965 346,860 6.7 (#4)
Increase 7 in opposition
1968 506,697 9.8 (#4)
Increase 8 in opposition
1971 586,917 11.1 (#3)
Increase 1 in opposition
1974 536,287 10.0 (#4)
Increase 1 in opposition
1977 559,567 10.0
Decrease 2 in coalition
1978 388,762 7.0
Decrease 6 in coalition
1981 588,436 9.8
Increase 6 in opposition
1985 477,755 7.9
Decrease 4 in opposition
1987 495,120 8.1
Steady 0 in coalition
1991 363,124 5.9
Decrease 6 in opposition
1995 283,516 4.7
Decrease 5 in opposition
1999 345,576 5.6
Increase 3 in opposition

Regional parliaments

Flemish Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of language
group vote
# of
overall seats won
# of language
group seats won
+/- Government Notes
1995 338,173 9.0
in opposition
1999 359,226 9.3
Increase 2 in coalition

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
% of electoral
college vote
# of
overall seats won
# of electoral
college seats won
+/- Notes
1979 324,540 9.7
1984 484,494 13.9
Increase 1
1989 318,153 8.7
Decrease 1
1994 262,043 7.1
Steady 0
1999 471,238 7.6 12.2
Increase 1


  1. ^ a b Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko; Matti Mälkiä (2007). Encyclopedia of Digital Government. Idea Group Inc (IGI). pp. 397-. ISBN 978-1-59140-790-4. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ a b Thomas Poguntke; Paul Webb (21 June 2007). The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies. Oxford University Press. pp. 158-. ISBN 978-0-19-921849-3. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ a b Alan T. Arwine; Lawrence C. Mayer (10 June 2013). The Changing Basis of Political Conflict in Advanced Western Democracies: The Politics of Identity in the United States, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 83-. ISBN 978-1-137-30665-4.
  4. ^ Nordsieck, Wolfram (n.d.). "Belgium". Parties and Elections in Europe. Archived from the original on 2001-11-03. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Sonia Alonso (26 April 2012). Challenging the State: Devolution and the Battle for Partisan Credibility: A Comparison of Belgium, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Oxford University Press. pp. 95-. ISBN 978-0-19-969157-9.
  6. ^ Lucas F. Bruyning (1990). Italy - Europe. Rodopi. pp. 18-. ISBN 90-5183-195-1.
  7. ^ Andrew C. Gould; Anthony M. Messina (17 February 2014). Europe's Contending Identities: Supranationalism, Ethnoregionalism, Religion, and New Nationalism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 132-. ISBN 978-1-107-03633-8.
  8. ^ New Parties in Old Party Systems. Oxford University Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-19-964606-7.

See also

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