Belgium’s King Philippe met the head of the anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang on Wednesday after Flemish separatist parties surged in an inconclusive national election, the first time a Belgian monarch has met a far-right leader since the 1930s, ONA reports citing Reuters.
The king has held a series of talks with other party leaders following Sunday’s election as part of consultations to allow the palace to designate the political leader with the best chance of forming a government.
He greeted Tom Van Grieken, 32, just inside the gates of the royal palace in central Brussels and the two shook hands, Van Grieken making a small bow. Their meeting lasted just over 20 minutes.
“I don’t see why you are treating this as abnormal,” Van Grieken told reporters on his arrival. “It is the most normal thing in the world that the party that has won the election is invited to see the head of state.”
Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), which has traditionally been shunned by mainstream parties, stunned Belgium by grabbing 18 seats in the federal parliament, up from three previously, as regional, national and European elections were held on Sunday.