Walloon Movement

Walloon Movement

The Walloon Movement covers all Belgian political movements which assert the existence of a Walloon identity and of Wallonia or defend the French culture and language within Belgium.

This movement began to defend the primacy of French but gained political and socio-economic objectives. It is also called Wallingantism and its militants "Wallingants". Wallingants can be pejorative in French.

Ideological Background


Common to the whole Walloon Movement is the ideal of the French revolution, and a love of French language and culture.

This francophilia gives the Walloon Movement and Walloon militants the aim of being closer to France and more distant from the Netherlands, in particular with the Benelux policy:

"In fact, the Walloon Movement is the first, and quasi the sole, to warn the public opinion against implications of the Benelux policy and to claim, on the other hand or in complement, an economic and cultural moving closer to France. […] Qualified as modern version of orangism, the Benelux policy can serve a certain Flemish policy. According to George Dotreppe, member of the directory of "Wallonie Libre", Benelux, born out on English groung and turned towards Great Britain and the United States, supports the anti-French policy of Anglo-Saxons, which does not serve of anything Wallonia, sister of France. [fr «"En fait, Le Mouvement wallon est le premier, et quasi le seul, à mettre l’opinion publique en garde contre les implications de Benelux et à réclamer, en contrepartie ou en complément, un rapprochement économique et culturel avec la France. […] Qualifié de version moderne de l’orangisme, le Benelux peut servir une certaine politique flamande. D’après Georges Dotreppe, membre du directoire de la Wallonie libre, le Benelux, né en terre anglaise et tourné vers la Grande-Bretagne et les États-Unis, favorise la politique anglo-saxonne anti-française, ce qui ne sert en rien la Wallonie, sœur de la France."» Marie-Paule Bouvy, [http://www.wallonie-en-ligne.net/Encyclopedie/Thematiques/Notices/Benelux.htm note on Benelux] in the online "Encyclopédie du Mouvement wallon" (Encyclopaedia of the Walloon Movement).]

"Rattachism", the French irredentist trend in the Walloon Movement, is a good example of this love for French republic. Notably Albert du Bois who in his book "The Belgians or the French?" edited in 1903 "denounces the subjection of the Walloons to the Flemings : besides those who are only succeeding the Dutchmen, Austrians and Spaniards who occupied Wallonia. The French heart of the Walloons must carry them to want the return to "l'œuvre de Quatre-vingt-treize" [the work of 1793, the invasion of the Southern Netherlands by the French] and the destruction of the international agreements of 1814 and 1830. It develops the same thesis in the "Catechism of the Walloon", widely diffused in this same year 1903." [fr «"dénonce la sujétion des Wallons aux Flamands : ceux-ci ne font d'ailleurs que succéder aux Hollandais, Autrichiens et Espagnols qui ont occupé la Wallonie. L'âme française des Wallons doit les porter à vouloir le retour à «l'œuvre de Quatre-vingt-treize» [1793, l'envahissement des provinces belgiques par les Français] et la destruction des accords internationaux de 1814 et 1830. Il développe la même thèse dans le Catéchisme du Wallon, largement diffusé en cette même année 1903."» Herve Hasquin, Dictionnaire d'histoire de Belgique, Éd. Hatier, 1998]

Left-wing Politics

The Walloon Movement was a Left-wing politics movement from its beginning. Started in liberal left societies, it quickly became a rallying cry for a liberal-socialist coalition against the conservatives of the Catholic Party whose power base was in the Flemish-speaking provinces. During the interbellum between World War I and World War II, many of the Christian left joined the Walloon Movement, notably the Abbé Mahieu, an anticlerical catholic priest. The movement was the focus of several attempts to create Left-wing party. For example the Walloon Democratic and Socialist Rally (Rassemblement démocratique et socialiste wallon) created during World War II.

Class struggle and Renardism

Many Walloon militants consider their movement as an incarnation of the social struggle and a way to fight for the workers' causefact.

The tension between the class struggle and Walloon empowerment brought forth two view points. One prioritised the class struggle and the other, Renardism (Fr "Fox-ism") saw both being achieved together. Jules Destrée in a speech on November 9, 1913 declared that "the Walloon Movement is not, cannot be, as well as the Flemish Movement a cause of division of the worker class. On the contrary, each time that there will be only their interests of class, workers, all workers must find themselves united." [fr «"le Mouvement wallon n’est pas, ne peut pas être, de même que le mouvement flamand, une cause de division de la classe ouvrière. Au contraire, chaque fois qu’il ne s’agira que de leurs intérêts de classe, les ouvriers, tous les ouvriers doivent se retrouver unis"» La Défense wallonne, n°1, January 1914] . The Renardism is an ideology combining syndical struggle and Walloon militancy. Born in André Renard's mind, he finely defined it :

"They made us believe in the socialist opening in Flanders. Just look at numbers. For me, the combat remains whole, but I choose the best ground and the best weapons. For the moment, the best ground and the best weapons are in Wallonia, the best road passes by the defense of the Walloon interests. I am at the same time socialist and Walloon and I embrace the Walloon thesis's because they are socialist." [fr «"On nous a fait croire à la percée socialiste en Flandre. Il suffit de voir les chiffres. Pour moi, le combat reste entier, mais je choisis le meilleur terrain et les meilleures armes. Pour le moment, le meilleur terrain et les meilleures armes sont en Wallonie, la meilleure route passe par la défense des intérêts wallons. Je suis en même temps socialiste et wallon et j'épouse les thèses wallonnes parce qu'elles sont socialistes."» Robert Moreau, "Combat syndical et conscience wallonne", Charleroi, Liège, Bruxelles, 1984, p. 119]

The struggle was typified by the internecine strife between workers during the strike of 1960-61.


The Wallingant ideology with the arrival of socialists within it was subsumed by a proletarian internationalism, Jules Destrée considered that "the Walloon Movement is not in contradiction with internationalism. On the contrary, by creating a nation new, free and independent, it facilitates the creation of solid agreements between the nations, which is by definition internationalism" [fr «"Le Mouvement wallon n’est pas en contradiction avec l’internationalisme. Au contraire, en créant une nation nouvelle, libre et indépendante, il facilite la création d’ententes solides entre les nations, ce qui est par définition l’internationalisme"» La Défense wallonne, n°1, January 1914] .

Walloon militants often regard Belgium as an invention of Bourgeoisie.

Role and Campaigns

Unilingual Belgicism

The defence of French as Belgium's sole official language was an historical campaign of the Walloon Movement.

Militants at that time were attached to the «"Belgian contract"» that, according to them, allowed only French to be used in Belgium's official life. Belgian revolutionaries in 1830 decided to prefer the French language. Firstly to reduce the Dutch influence from whom they had separated. Secondly because they were from the Francophile bourgeoisie - if not originating from France - and attached to principles of the French Revolution.

A Flemish Movement was quickly created to recognize the Dutch language. The first Walloon militants then set up a "French-speaking and Walloon movement of defence" to fight against the official recognition of Dutch. The militants were from the French-speaking areas joined by liberal bourgeoisie from Brussels and the Dutch-speaking provinces. These supprising allies joined the Francophiles because much of their work was in the bureaucracy where the introduction of another language would have been prejudicial to them.

This idea begins to quickly disappear after 1898, year of the Coremans-De Vriendt law which recognized Flemish.

The Front for Francophones

The defence of francophones and the French language started up after the failure to keep unilingual belgicism. Various organizations represented it, as the League against the Flemishisation of Brussels in the Thirties which fought for bilingualism in some communes of Brussels.

This trend become again more wide spread with the end of the linguistic censuses and fixing of the linguistic border in 1962–1963. At the elections of 1965, a party called Democratic Front of Francophones of Brussels (FDBF, now FDF) aroses and had three deputies and one senator.


The autonomist or separatist trend appeared on March 15, 1898 in "The Walloon Soul" ("L'Âme wallonne"). This propaganda paper of the Walloon League of Liege published on first page a plea in favour of the administrative separation of the country: "Let us take the offensive openly and continue as of today the obtention of a separatist regime, before they strip us and reduce more still" [fr «"Prenons ouvertement l'offensive et poursuivons dès aujourd'hui l'obtention d'un régime séparatiste, avant qu'on ne nous ait dépouillé et réduit plus encore".» Fred Joris, [http://www.wallonie-en-ligne.net/1995_Wallonie_Atouts-References/1995_ch02-1_Joris_Freddy.htm Les étapes du Mouvement wallon] (The steps of the Walloon Movement). 1995] . Concepts of autonomy vary from federalism to confederalism within the Belgian framework according to autonomist Wallingants but there are also separatists promoting autonomy within a European framework in the case of a "Europe of the Regions".


This trend inside the Walloon Movement is the youngest. It was born during the Second World War, in the Walloon Democratic and Socialist Rally ("Rassemblement démocratique et socialiste wallon" - RDSW), a group mainly from Liège constituted at the end of 1942 It grouped together politicians and Walloon militants. The RDSW's aim is to create a unique party for the left was without success. It also aimed to be a working group, in which the liberal Fernand Schreurs and the socialist Fernand Dehousse take part, on the future statute of Wallonia. The independence manifesto was written in November 1943, after the departure of the federalists, in the form of a draft Constitution for a Walloon republic. Its principle rests on "the formation of an independent Walloon State, suitable to be associated with a Flemish State and a State of Brussels, but integrated in the defensive system of France" [fr «"la formation d’un État wallon indépendant, susceptible de s’associer avec un État flamand et un État bruxellois, mais intégré dans le système défensif de la France"» Paul Delforge, [http://www.wallonie-en-ligne.net/Encyclopedie/Thematiques/Notices/Independantisme.htm Note on the Wallon independantism] .] .

The RDSW draft was presented at the Walloon nation congress in 1945 but only during the «sentimental vote» [A first «sentimental» vote where militants vote with their heart and a second «of reason» are organized. At the first, the reunion of Wallonia to France win with a relative majority of 456 votes out of 1048 voters, or 46.4%. At the second, the unanimity minus two votes votes for the autonomy of Wallonia within the framework of Belgium.] 154 votes out of 1048 voters, or 14.6%. After the congress, this trend remained discrete until the sixties. During the general strike of 1960–1961 Renardism appeared, an independentist trend for a socialist and syndical Wallonia, but its failure after this strike forces this syndical enterprise to be folded back on the constitution of a federalistic lobbying group, the Walloon Popular Movement ("Mouvement Populaire Wallon" - MPW).

During the seventies and the 80s, several parties with an independentist program were created like the Walloon Popular Rally ("Rassemblement populaire wallon" - RPW) and the Front for the Independence of Wallonia ("Front pour l’Indépendance de la Wallonie" - FIW) but after electoral failures, especially the European elections on June 17, 1984, they sank into oblivion. It is the Rattachist trend that today gathers the most enthusiasm of Walloon militants unhappy with the result of institutional reforms in favour of the autonomy of Wallonia within Belgium.


Rattachism, or Reunionism as Wallingants prefer to call it, is a trend advocating joining Wallonia with France.

There were rattachists since the Independence of Belgium, like Alexandre Gendebien [We can read in the process-verbal of the Council of Ministers on March 19, 1831 "that his first thought was always for the reunion with France, he believes that it is the only way to avoid a restoration [of Dutch government] ; however he declares that now he thinks it is his duty to work on the independence and he is resolute to." («"que sa première pensée a toujours été pour la réunion avec la France, qu'il croit encore que c'est le seul moyen d'éviter une restoration ; toutefois il déclare que maintenant il pense qu'il est de son devoir de travailler à l'indépendance et qu'il y est décidé"»)] but it is only in the 1900s that rattachism specifically in the Walloon Movement with the Count Albert du Bois d'Enghien and his "Catechism of the Walloon" that affirms French identity of the Walloon. He participated to the newspaper "Le Réveil wallon", clearly Francophile and rattachist.

This trend is currently represented by the party Rassemblement Wallonie-France


Historians agree that1880 is the start of the Walloon political movement with the foundation of a "Walloon and French-speaking defense movement" following the first linguistic laws of the 1870s. It took the character of a movement asserting the existence of Wallonia and a Walloon identity without giving up the defense of French. Wallonia asserted timidly since 1898 but which becomes the principal claim since 1905 with a climax at the Walloon congress of 1912 and Jules Destrée's "Letter to the King". The First World War and a reviving of Belgian patriotism applied a brake to the movement and it spin offs. Walloon militants banded together in 1930s under the patronage of the Walloon Concentration where the radical ideas of 1912 were born again brining into existence the linguistic laws of 1932. During the Second World war, several Wallingants distinguished themselves within Resistance by forming various clandestine groupings. This world war radicalized even more the movement which for the first time speaks about independence ideas, and which will lead to its active participation in the Royal Question in 1950. Then follows a lull long of a decade which ends with the general strike of 1960-1961 with at its head André Renard who ally Wallingants claims and workers' claims.

Notes and references

ee also

Internal links

* Wallonia
* Walloons
* Flemish Movement
* Partition of Belgium
* Wallonie Libre

External links

* [http://www.destree.org/ Jules Destrée Institute]


* "L'Encyclopédie du Mouvement wallon", Institut Jules Destrée, Charleroi, 2000
* Philippe Destate, "L'Identité wallonne", Institut Jules Destrée, coll. Notre Histoire, Charleroi, 1997
* Maarten Van Ginderachter, "Het kraaien van de haan", Cahiers Jan Dhondt 3, Acamedia Press, Gand, 2005 [http://www.flwi.ugent.be/btng-rbhc/pdf/Cahiers%20Jan%20Dhondt,%203,%20nl.pdf pdf]
* Chantal Kesteloot, "Mouvement Wallon et identité nationale", Courrier Hebdomadaire du CRISP, No. 1392, 1993.
* Chantal Kesteloot, "Tendances récentes de l'historiographie du mouvement wallon (1981–1995)", Revue Belge d'Histoire Contemporaine, XXV, 1994-1995, 3-4, pp. 539-568. [http://www.flwi.ugent.be/btng-rbhc/pdf/BTNG-RBHC,%2025,%201994-1995,%203-4,%20pp%20539-568.pdf pdf]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • History of the Walloon Movement — The history of the Walloon movement starts in 1880, a date which historians agree to take as the initial benchmark. Prior to the Walloon Movement as a political phenomenon, there were, from 1856, literary and folkloric movements based around the… …   Wikipedia

  • Walloon — may refer to:Belgium*The Walloons, inhabitants of Wallonia, a region of the federal state of Belgium. *The Walloon Movement a linguistic and political movement to strengthen Wallooon culture and language within Belgium * Wallooon is also the… …   Wikipedia

  • Walloon language — language name=Walloon nativename=Walon familycolor=Indo European states=flag|Belgium flag|France (also: some speakers in the United States) speakers=est. 600,000 fam2=Italic fam3=Romance fam4=Italo Western fam5=Western fam6=Gallo Iberian… …   Wikipedia

  • Manifesto for Walloon culture — Sequence of Saint Eulalia [1] The Manifesto for Walloon Culture (Manifeste pour la culture wallonne), was published in Liège on 15 September 1983 and signed ‘by seventy five key figures in artistic, journalistic and university circles’[2 …   Wikipedia

  • Flemish Movement — The Flemish Movement ( nl. Vlaamse Beweging) is a popular term used to describe the political movement for emancipation and greater autonomy of the Belgian region of Flanders, for protection of the Dutch language, and for the over all protection… …   Wikipedia

  • Māori protest movement — The Māori protest movement is a broad indigenous rights movement in New Zealand. While this movement has existed since Europeans first colonised New Zealand its modern form emerged in the early 1970s and has focused on issues such as the Treaty… …   Wikipedia

  • Red Power movement — The phrase Red Power , attributed to the author Vine Deloria, Jr., commonly expressed a growing sense of pan Indian identity in the late 1960s among American Indians in the United States. The major catalyst of Red Power was the occupation of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Flemish movement — ▪ Belgian political movement       the 19th and 20th century nationalist movement of Flemish speaking people in Belgium. It has sought political and cultural equality with, or separation from, the less numerous but long dominant French speaking… …   Universalium

  • Reformist Movement — Infobox Belgian Political Party party name = Mouvement Reformateur party party wikicolourid = VVD leader = Didier Reynders foundation = 2002 ideology = Liberalism international = Liberal International european = European Liberal Democrat and… …   Wikipedia

  • Wallonia — Wallonia, or Wallonie, ( fr. Wallonie, de. Wallonien, nl. Wallonië, wa. Waloneye) is the meridional part of Belgium belonging to the Romance linguistic field (about 3,4 millions inhabitants), in opposition to the Germanic linguistic field in the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”