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Belgium king meets far-right Vlaams Belang party leader



 King Philippe of Belgium (left) welcomes chairman of Vlaams Belang party Tom Van Grieken (right) ahead of a meeting at the Royal Palace Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

King Philippe ( left) with Mr van Grieken (right) at Belgium's Royal Palace
                

Belgium's King Philippe has an official meeting at the royal palace with the head of the far-right Vlaams Belang party.

It is the first time a Belgian monarch has a far-right leader since 1

936. [19659007] His meeting with Tom van Grieken comes after a surge in support for Flemish separatist parties in the country's national elections.

However, with other party leaders as part of talks to form a government.

However, a shift To the left in Belgium's French-speaking south will make it difficult for the country to form a government.

The Flemish Interest ("Flemish Interest") leader told reporters at the royal palace that their meeting was "the most normal thing in the world"

Until recently, the party has operated on the fringe of Belgian politics and the monarchy has refused to meet with its leaders.

However on Sunday, Vlaams Belang received the second-highest number of votes in national elections and took 18 seats in the country's federal parliament – up from three previously

  • European elections 2019: Country-by-country roundup [19659015] After elections, Belgium's monarchy helps with formation of national governments, which have historically been coalitions of Flemish and Francophone parties.

    "The king cannot be partisan," Leuven University political scientist Bart Maddens customs local broadcaster RTBF.

    " [He] must be neutral and so what the king can do is conclude that there is no party that wants to form a coalition with the Vlaams Belang. "

    The last time a monarch with with a far-right leader was in 1936 , when King Leopold III with Léon Degrelle, the head of the fascist Rex party. Rex later collaborated with the Nazi occupation of Belgium

    Image copyright
    EPA

    Image caption

    Vlaams Belang took part in a demonstration last December against the UN's migration pact
                    

    The anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang party was formed in 2004 after a court found its predecessor, Flemish Block ("Flemish Block"), breached anti-racism laws.

    It has called for the abolition of the monarchy and funding cuts to the country's less prosperous, French-speaking Wallonia region.

    After elections in 2010, Belgium took a record 541 days to create a government.


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