First results are in, and the victory of NVA is even bigger than expected: They are the biggest party in Belgium, with about 20.8%. In the Flemish region of Belgium they have about 29% of the votes (these are partial results, the latest updates can be found by following the link, and I will post an update tomorrow).
It is difficult to describe the NVA - they are undoubtedly a nationalist party with a seperatist ideal (Flemish independence), but they need to be distinguished from the extreem-right racist Vlaams Belang (which, by the way, has lost considerably). NVA is often qualified as democratic, sometimes even ‘moderate’ – but I guess how one qualifies them depends on one’s own position on the political spectrum. In any case, the first thing Bart De Wever, the political leader, will say in interviews, is that he doesn’t dislike Francophone Belgians, but that he strongly believes that the structures of the Belgian state are rotten and need to be drastically reformed. A remarkable fact is that the ideal of NVA is a strong independent Flanders in a strong Europe – so they are not at all anti-European (in contrast to other conservative/right wing parties in Europe).
In an interview I just saw, a leading figure in NVA (Siegfried Bracke), said that he strongly believes a coalition must be formed that can lead to a win-win situation for both francophone and Flemish Belgians. In the long run that may perhaps be possible, if the drastical socio-economic reforms would lead to economic growth and a higher long-term sustainable quality of life for all Belgians; but I doubt that many will see how this win-win situation, if at all possible, will materialise in the short run.
Forming a stable coalition will prove very difficult, but Belgium desperately needs a capable government after 3 lost years. Yet how NVA could possible deliver a prime minister for a country it rather wishes to see disolved rahter than strengthened, is quite paradoxical. So it’s quite possible that the prime minister will be Elio di Rupo, leader of the Parti Socialiste, the biggest Francophone party. That would also be exceptional for Belgium, since ‘normally’ the largest party delivers the prime-minister. Yet these are probably merely details if one tries to think of all the headbreaking puzzles that will need to be solved, and disagreements that need to be overcome, to get Belgium out of the mess it’s been in for the last three years.
Update: with all votes counted, the results have changed a little. NVA has 17,4% of the votes in Belgium, followed by 13,7 for the PS (Parti Socialiste, francophone social-democrats) and 10,9 for CV&V (Flemish Christian-democrats). In Flanders the NVA has 27,8% of the votes, which is almost 10% more than the second-largest party in Flanders (CD&V, who got 17,3% of the votes in Flanders). The PS had 37,6% of the francophone votes, which is 11,4% more than the second francophone party (MR, a right-wing liberal party).