Belgium’s national election split along linguistic lines

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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)

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BRUSSELS (AP) — Estimates based on partial results in Belgium’s national election show huge gains for a far-right party in a northern region, and the Greens have seen a similar surge in support in Brussels and the south of the country.

Belgium is split along linguistic lines, with French-speaking Wallonia in the south and Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north. There is also a huge political divide in both regions.

The anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang party nearly tripled its support compared to the 2014 election and is estimated to win 18.1% of the vote, with a third of the results counted Sunday. It would become the second-biggest party in Flanders behind the nationalist N-VA party, which has 27.5%.

The Greens are projected to triple their support to 29% to become the biggest party in Wallonia.

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