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date: 17 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

On the eve of the First World War, Belgium boasted a long tradition of stable civil democracy. Between the two wars, however, its government was challenged by fascist movements, which nevertheless did not succeed in destabilizing the country. In that respect, fascism in Belgium developed in a similar way to that in other West European democracies. Belgian liberal democracy and its nation state came under the pressure of two movements that were at odds with Belgian society as it developed after the First World War. In the first place, there was a reactionary Catholic and French-speaking Belgian nationalist movement that could not resign itself to the increased power of anticlerical and left-wing political forces in general, and of the socialist labour movement in particular. In the second place, there was a Flemish nationalist movement that was looking for confrontation with the Belgian state.

Keywords: First World War, fascism, civil democracy, Flemish, nationalism, left-wing politics, nationalist movement

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