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Belgian vote results show big separatist gains

BRUSSELS -- The leader of a separatist party has won the race to become mayor of Antwerp, Europe's second biggest port city, and vowed to use the power base to seek wider autonomy for Belgium's wealthy Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

Bart De Wever's NV-A party on Sunday made sweeping gains throughout Flanders and immediately called on French-speaking Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo to give more rights of self-rule to Flanders.

De Wever says `'we want to give Flemings the government they want at all levels. That is why I call on Elio Di Rupo and the Francophone politicians. Take up your responsibility."

He says he will work for even bigger gains for separatists at the 2014 national elections.

De Wever has been at odds with ailing French-speaking Wallonia for years.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The mayor of Europe's second biggest port city has conceded electoral defeat to a leader who has vowed to seek autonomy for Belgium's wealthy Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

Bart De Wever's NV-A party made big gains in elections seen as a gauge of separatist sentiment. De Wever was on the cusp of becoming mayor of Antwerp, which he has promised to use as a base for a bigger challenge from Flemish separatists during national elections in 2014.

Socialist incumbent Patrick Janssens said Sunday that `'we have lost the elections, the initiative is now up to Mr. De Wever. We call on him to put the city at the center of his attention."

De Wever has been at odds with Belgium's economically ailing French-speaking Wallonia for years.