Belgian elections a test of Flemish separatists

Associated Press
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A worker stamps voting cards at a polling station in Antwerp, Belgium, on Sunday Oct. 14, 2012. NVA, a separatist party, wants to use Antwerp as a base for breaking away from Belgium, putting it in the forefront of a European breakaway trend just as the EU celebrates winning the Nobel Peace Prize for fostering continental unity. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgians are going to the polls in municipal elections seen as a test of separatist sentiment in the northern Dutch-speaking Flanders region.

In particular, observers are watching the wealthy northern port of Antwerp, where Bart De Wever of the NV-A separatist party is seeking to become mayor and use the city as a base for a bigger challenge during national elections in 2014.

De Wever has been at odd with economically ailing French-speaking Wallonia.

Polls predict a surge for the NV-A, but De Wever said Sunday that "you never know for certain. When the polls close then you become nervous, then you are in the eye of the storm."

The first results are expected around 8 p.m. (1800GMT; 2 p.m. EDT).