Beyond issue diversification: N-VA and the communitarisation of political, economic and cultural conflicts in Belgium

Koenraad Abts, E. Dalle Mulle*, R. Laermans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Since the early 2000s, the Flemish nationalist party New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) has experienced a burgeoning growth. Paradoxically, for a stateless nationalist and regionalist party (SNRP), this performance has occurred without major changes in mass support for independence and only ambiguous ones for more regional autonomy, which suggests that the party appeals to different electoral subgroups through a vote-maximisation strategy of issue diversification. Providing an in-depth analysis of the multi-dimensional ideology of N-VA, this article contributes to the literature on SNRPs by arguing that N-VA has gone beyond issue diversification through a strategy of ‘issue communitarisation’ that consists not only in expanding its agenda beyond the centre–periphery cleavage, but rather in framing all other policy issues explicitly in (sub-state) nationalist terms. According to this strategy, all major conflicts on political power, social redistribution and cultural identity are systematically represented as being based on an unresolvable and overarching centre–periphery antagonism between Flanders and francophone Belgium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)848-872
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019



  • Belgium
  • Flanders
  • N-VA
  • Nationalism
  • ideology
  • welfare deservingness

Cite this