Belgian Jews Issued Warning About Extremist Candidates

As some 7.2 million Belgians prepare to vote for members of their federal and regional parliaments in elections Sunday, the umbrella organization representing Belgian Jewry has issued a warning to the community about the vote.

In what it termed an “Appeal to Belgian Jews,” the Coordination Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations said, “Extremist parties are running in these elections. If they would come to power or share it, it may endanger our fundamental freedoms. We must combat the parties calling for exclusion and racism, even in a disguised form.”

The group called on the Jewish community to vote for “democratic parties in order to stop fascism.”

The appeal came as opinion polls predicted important electoral gains for the Flemish Bloc, the anti-immigrant, extreme-right Flemish party.

According to one recently published poll, support for the Flemish Bloc has risen strongly, with the poll suggesting that it may get as much as 12.8 percent of the vote in Sunday’s elections.

This would make the Flemish Bloc the fourth largest party in Belgium’s Flanders region, after the Christian Democrat, Liberal and Socialist parties.

Support for the extreme-right nationalist party has grown in Flanders after political scandals hit the Socialist Party, which is a member of the current center-left governing coalition.

In the French-speaking part of Belgium, another extreme-right party, the National Front, is running, but it is not expected to match the Flemish Bloc’s showing.

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