Belgium king's Christmas speech sparks controversy, linking separatism to fascism


Nationalist Bart De Wever votes on Sunday. The wave of separatist victories is being felt across Europe.


Mark Renders

Belgium's King Albert II gave a Christmas speech that angered the country's most popular political party by appearing to link Flemish separatism to fascism.

During his Christmas message, Albert II warned against populists seeking scapegoats for current economic difficulties, according to BBC News. He said populists were "trying to find scapegoats for the crisis, whether foreigners or compatriots from another part of the country."

That type of thinking persisted in Belgium as much as in other European countries and "the crisis of the 1930s and the populist reactions of that time must not be forgotten," the king continued.

More from GlobalPost: Belgium: a kingdom in crisis

Bart De Wever, leader of the N-VA separatists party and mayor of Flanders' biggest city, Antwerp, accused the king of being "divisive" and said Albert II favored French-speaking socialists, reported Reuters.

"His Christmas message was an unhappy pinnacle," De Wever wrote in an editorial in De Standaard newspaper on Thursday.

De Wever went on to say that a political monarch is not compatible with democracy, according to The Telegraph.

"He thinks I'm a fascist. Following this Christmas message I'm wondering whether he can still play his role," he said. "The sovereign must be above the political fray in order to represent the entire nation. But Albert II is not performing this role. He has chosen the path of a royalty of division."