- Rexism began as a Catholic right-wing populist movement in the early 1930s that inclined more toward fascism as the Great Depression deepened with a concomitant fall in the prestige of parliamentary democracy and a rise in the popularity of Adolf Hitler among rightist elements across Europe. Proclaiming open contempt for democracy and employing verbal lies and physical violence, the Rexist Party, under its leader Léon Degrelle, garnered 21 percent of the vote in Brussels and the Walloon provinces and won five seats in the Chamber of Representatives from the Brussels area in the elections of 1936. In a by-election in Brussels in 1937, the mainline parties established a common front behind Prime Minister Paul van Zee-land, who defeated Degrelle by 76 percent to 19 percent of total votes. The Rexists suffered a sharp decline in the election of 1939, securing only 4.43 percent of the total national vote and a mere two seats in Brussels. Public discredit followed after World War II.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.
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