Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 09:01 UK

Language rift in Belgian election

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Feuding over the rights of Dutch and French speakers has erupted again in Belgium in the run-up to voting in the European Parliament election on 7 June.

Billboard space for election posters is being denied to Francophone political parties in two mainly Dutch-speaking municipalities near Brussels.

Politicians in Halle and Affligem object to Francophone Brussels parties campaigning in the Flanders region.

Belgian politics closely mirrors the country's deep linguistic divide.

A centrist Francophone party, CDH, condemned the Flemish municipalities' move as an attack on "the fundamental rights of French speakers on the periphery [of Brussels]", the AFP news agency reported.

Some 60% of Belgium's population is Dutch-speaking, and about 40% French-speaking. The city of Brussels, although surrounded by Dutch-speaking Flanders, is largely French-speaking.

But about 100,000 Francophones live in mainly Dutch-speaking suburbs of the capital.

Dutch-speaking politicians are pushing for the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde electoral district to be split up.

Belgium's long-running tensions over language rights contributed to political paralysis after the last general election, when for months the parties were unable to form a new coalition.

Belgian regions already have considerable autonomy, but Dutch-speaking parties want more powers to be devolved from the centre.

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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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Steve Rosenberg Berlin voters celebrate at party

War of words in divided Belgium
08 Oct 08 |  Europe
Can divided Belgium hold together?
20 Oct 08 |  Europe
Rich Flanders seeks more autonomy
30 Sep 08 |  Europe
Belgium country profile
05 Dec 11 |  Country profiles

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