Recent empirical studies in the Flemish part of Belgium show the emergence of at least one ‘new’ cleavage (Swyngedouw 1993; Elchardus 1994) and several changes in the relationships between traditional political parties and social organizations (Billiet 1995b). Three phenomena have raised questions:
1 the ‘cleavage’ of a substantial portion of the voters on the basis of postmaterialist/materialist and ethnocentrist orientations (Billiet and de Witte 1995);
2 a substantial number of votes for a new libertarian ‘protest’ party together with a rather large number of blank or invalid votes;
3 the substantial shift of more than one-third of the voters from one political party to another.