- Note that Flemish Block turned themselves into Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang) since their condamnation in 2004
The Flemish Block (Dutch: Vlaams Blok) was a Flemish far-right nationalist political party which rejects the state of Belgium, calling for political independence for the Flemish half of the country. On November 14, 2004, the party was dissolved and a new party was created under the name Flemish Interest (Dutch: Vlaams Belang). It was also a leading force in the militant wing of the Flemish movement. It was a Euronationalist party.
The party had been characterised by the international media as being neo-nazi, racist and openly antisemitic and an appeal court in Ghent, Belgium, ruled the party as racist on April 2004. Its voting track record in the Flemish and Belgian parliaments was strong and consistent on the immigration and law-and-order theme, but mixed for Flemish autonomy (e.g.: it abstained from a crucial vote on splitting the trade unionist electoral district of Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde/Bruxelles-Hal-Vilvorde).
The party first made its appearance in the 1978 general elections. It was founded by dissatisfied members, including a former deputy of the then Volksunie (Lode Claes) and more right-wing militants as Karel Dillen. The founders had strong links and open sympathies for the collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. It has experienced a continuous electoral growth (with the exception of the 1981 elections). The Vlaams Blok is particularly strong in and around Antwerp, where it received thirty-three percent of the votes in the last municipal elections.
Since the end of the eighties, its main focus tends to be on "euronationalist" themes such as immigration and criminality. Because of this evolution, some members have left the party, but this doesn't seem to have caused much electoral damage. Many studies and opinion polls show that its electoral support is mainly based on its tough image on immigration and criminality, and on its image as the "only real opposition party", rather than on its platform for the creation of an independent Flemish republic. In fact, some polls show that a majority of its electorate is opposed to the disappearance of the Belgian monarchy.
In 1996, Karel Dillen, who was "President for life" since 1977, appointed Frank Vanhecke as his successor. It is believed by many that Filip Dewinter is the party's real strong man.
In 2002 party ideologue and vice-president Roeland Raes gave an interview on Dutch TV where he cast doubt over the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. In the same interview he also questioned the scale of the Nazis use of gas chambers and the authenticity of Anne Frank's diary. In response to the media assault following the interview, Raes was forced to resign his position but vowed to remain active within the party  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,449278,00.html). In 2003, a Vlaams Blok politician was dropped from a delegation of Flemish parliamentarians due to visit the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly after strongly criticizing the SNP  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1034186,00.html),  (http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2003/08/276065.html).
In April 2004, an appeal court in Ghent, Belgium, ruled the party as racist and found it guilty of breaching anti-racism law. The court ruled that the party regularly portrays foreigners as "criminals who take bread from the mouths of Flemish workers" and found it guilty of "permanent incitement to segregation and racism" (http://www.iht.com/articles/516525.html).
The Vlaams Blok appealed the court decision, but the ruling was confirmed on November 9, 2004, effectively banning the party.
The whole trial was seen by many as a political trial, inspired by the Belgian establishment. The federal parliament even changed the constitution to create legal possibilities to get the Vlaams Blok condemned.  (http://www.techcentralstation.com/112204AA.html)
In the federal parliament, it is now the fifth-largest party in Belgium, with 11.6 percent of the Belgian vote and 17.9 percent of the Flemish vote. It has 18 seats in the federal chamber of representatives. It had its best electoral result to date in the Belgian regional elections, 2004, becoming the second largest party in the Flemish Parliament, with 24.1% of the vote, increasing its number of seats with 10 to 32 out of 124. With 7 seats out of 24, it is the largest party on Antwerp city council  (http://theoccidentalquarterly.com/vol3no4/dt-euroright.html). The other political parties have imposed a cordon sanitaire on the party since the general elections of 1991, refusing all cooperation.
It seems quite questionable if the so-called cordon sanitaire will stand in 2006 during the local elections. Several politicians within CD&V, VLD and N-VA oppose the cordon sanitaire and see it as a form of protectionism from the left to stay in government.
Supreme Court's decision of November 9, 2004
On November 9, 2004, the Belgian Supreme Court upheld a decision of the Appeal court of Ghent ruling that the Vlaams Blok was a racist party, or more precisely that the party pursued permanent incitement to discrimination and racial segregation. The Supreme Court held that the prohibition to pursue discrimination and segregation in an obvious and sustained manner is also applicable to political parties (press release in Dutch  (http://www.juridat.be/cass/cass_nl/p4.htm) and in French  (http://www.juridat.be/cass/cass_fr/p4.htm), see decision in Dutch below).
On November 14, the Vlaams Blok disbanded itself, and a new party with the name Vlaams Belang (in English: Flemish Interest) was created. According to the party leaders, the new party will follow the same programme as used during the regional elections of 2004, but without the infamous '70 points programme', which was the basis of the party since 1992. Gerolf Annemans created instant controversy during the inauguration event of the new party by issuing veiled personal threats to the prosecutors and judges who presided over the case in the Supreme Court and courts of appeal.
Gerolf Annemans indeed declared during the new party congress: "De namen van alle juridische hoofdrolspelers uit dat proces staan voorgoed in het geheugen van déze jurist gegrift: ze zijn gewaarschuwd voor de rest van hun carrière" (http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cache:i74c-h7KjbMJ:mor.presscollection.com/20041115/public/pages/Krant001/articles/MOR-20041115-Krant001005.html+%22De+namen+van+alle+juridische+hoofdrolspelers+uit+dat+proces+staan+voorgoed+in+het+geheugen+van+d%C3%A9ze+jurist+gegrift:+ze+zijn+gewaarschuwd%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8) which can be translated as "The names of all main legal figures in that trial stand once and for all in my lawyer's memory, they have been warned for the rest of their career". This was provoked by Supreme Court public prosecutor Marc Timperman, who had apparently laughed, according to Gerolf Annemans himself, at the Flemish Block lawyers the week before, during the decisive Supreme Court session. In the past Timperman had been a close ally of Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Prime Minister. This only strengthens the accusations of a political trial.
- Vlaams Blok website (http://www.vlaamsblok.be/index.shtml)
- Flanders Independent site (http://www.vl-onafhankelijk.org)
- The Flemish Republic online newsletter for English speaking people (http://www.flemishrepublic.org), a web site of the Vlaams Blok
- Supreme Court's decision of November 9, 2004 (http://www.juridat.be/jurispdf/R/C/04/B/RC04B91.pdf), (pdf document), provisional version of the original decision in Dutch
- Official Vlaams Blok party comment on the conviction (http://majorityrights.com/index.php/weblog/comments/39/)
- Vlaams Blokwatch: website critical of the Flemish political right (http://www.blokwatch.be/l)
- satire on the Vlaams Blok (http://homepage.mac.com/vedeze/PhotoAlbum93.html)