Belgium’s national election split along linguistic lines

Monks from the Saint Sixtus Trappist Abbey walk by election campaign posters as they walk to a polling station in Westvleteren, Belgium, Sunday, May 26, 2019. Belgium, which has one of the oldest compulsory voting systems, goes to the polls Sunday to vote on the regional, federal and European level. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

BRUSSELS (AP) — A far-right, anti-immigrant party made huge gains in Belgium’s northern Flanders region, according to near-complete results late Sunday. The result looks set to complicate a national coalition government.

Belgium is split along linguistic lines, with French-speaking Wallonia in the south and Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, and governments invariably are coalitions made up of parties from both regions.

The anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang party surged to 18 seats in the 150-seat parliament, up from three in 2014.It will be the second-biggest party in Flanders behind the nationalist N-VA party, which has 25 seats, after losing five.

In Wallonia, technical problems long affected the projection of results, but in the end, the socialists emerged as the biggest party there despite losses, and still beat Prime Minister Charles Michel’s MR free-market liberals.

In bilingual Brussels, the Greens had a major surge in support.

Belgium has been without an active government since December when Michel’s coalition fell apart over an immigration issue.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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