Belgium faces a government crisis in forming a new government after a far-right separatist party made gains in the federal election.
Vlaams Belang (VB), a far-right populist party that supports independence for the region of Flanders, jumped from three seats to 18, becoming the third largest party in the country.
Parties from the current government all suffered losses, including the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) who pulled out of the coalition in December last year.
The country’s two green parties also made considerable gains, amid a green surge across Europe in the European elections. Ecolo and Groen together won 21 seats, up nine from the last election.
The far-left Workers’ Party (PVDA/PTB), which contests seats across the country, also saw a massive increase in seats, going from two seats in 2014 to 12.
The results further highlighted the divide between Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia. Flanders voted for more conservative and separatist parties, whilst Wallonia backed more left-wing parties.
In Flanders, just over 43 percent of voters backed parties that support independence, whilst in Wallonia over one in 10 voters backed the far-left.
With the ‘cordon sanitaire’ aganst Vlaams Belang, meaning they will be left out of coalition talks, it means that forming the next government will be a complicated process.
The socialist and green parties combined hold 50 seats, with the centre-right and liberal parties with 43 seats. 76 seats are needed for an overall majority.