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June 24, 2017

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Flemish nationalists score breakthrough in Belgium

BRUSSELS -- Flemish nationalist leader Bart De Wever scored a breakthrough election win Sunday and immediately urged Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo to radically re-shape the federal state.

Hailing a "historic" victory for himself in Antwerp with big gains right across Dutch-speaking Flanders in local polls, De Wever said Di Rupo and his coalition partners should "assume your responsibility."

With results from Antwerp almost all in, De Wever's New Flemish Alliance (NVA) bagged 37.7 percent and Socialist incumbent Mayor Patrick Janssens 28.6 percent, and the win was underpinned by scores of 20-30 percent across the territory of 6 million people.

With backers readying for a party in City Hall, De Wever demanded negotiations "to enable both Flanders and Wallonia to look after their own affairs."

In the run-up to tense 2014 general elections, he wants to turn Belgium into a "confederation," effectively seeking fiscal independence for the Dutch-speaking north and French-speaking south although sharing areas like defense.

Only this, De Wever said, would allow Belgium as a whole to "find a path of solidarity," which could also affect the future of Brussels, the largely Francophone EU, Belgian and Flemish capital.

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