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Aflevering 1, 1996 Alle samenvattingen uitklappen

    In the last five years, the Italian political system registered its most important crisis. All parties, existing since the second world war, disappeared or were greatly transformed. The main purpose of this article is to analyse the deepest causes of the first Italian republic's collapse, following some specific interpretations of Italian political observers. L. Ricolfi bases his theory on the emergence of "Lega" and the return of laïque culture in Italy. The old christian democratic and communist parties will suffer the most from these changes. A. Sofri emphasizes the identity of northern regionalism between the "Lega" and the "Pool of Milan" ('Clean hands operation"). A real opposition emerges between the judges of Milan and the politicians of Rome. S. Romano and M.L. Salvadori prefer the historical approach: for them, the events of1990-1994 are very similar to what happened in 1922-1926and in 1943-1945. The absence of a pacific alternative and the "ideological war" among political forces produce the effect that every change in Italian politics implies an end of regime. L. Ornaghi and V.B. Parsi deal with the "values" of citizens which, very often, do not correspond to the values of old politicians. For them, a democracy for the political parties -as structured in the last 45 years- must give priority to a democracy for the citizens.

Domenico Rossetti Di Valdalbero

The European Union's Future

A Preview of the Intergovernmental Conference of 1996

Auteurs Youri Devuyst

    During the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) of1996, the European Union's institutional structure should be adapted, most notably in preparation for the Union's enlargement with the Central and Eastern European countries. The IGC's institutional debate will befar from easy. This is not surprizing since the institutional discussions during the IGC will reflect the grave substantive policy differences between the Member States on the Union's functions in the economy and on the Union's foreign policy role. The IGC is, indeed, largely a position game during which the Member States attempt to create a congenial institutional framework, favourable to their substantive policy preferences.

Youri Devuyst

    Kant had a notion of our determined and freely-choosing behavior which illuminates basic assumptions of contemporary ideologies. A myopic embracement of only one or the other behavior has been superseded by a new entanglement which renders moot ordinary political classifications. Fascism had typically affirmed the radical freedom of an Uebermensch (Superman) as well as a superior race and racism; Marxist communism a radical determinism as well as inevitable class warfare. But during the Cold War, especially since the 1960s, there arose in open societies a virulent assimilation of the two ideologies. Understood as a species of the"New Left", the ideology has effectively combined name-calling ad hominem attacks of "racism" with"elite white classes" to politicize dialogue and to suppress objective pursuits of truth as well as to foster ethnic identity and provide an unprecedented apologetics for global conflict.

Robert C. Trundle

De UNESCO en de vrijheid van informatie

Een reconstructie van 50 jaar machtspolitiek

Auteurs Jan Servaes

    This article assesses the role and profile of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in the international information and communication debate over the past fifty years. It describes the ideological controversies and shifts which took place as a result of and for conditioned by political and economic power changes. The concepts freedom of information' and 'free flow of information' are of a relatively recent date. However, the ideas on which they are based are very old. For centuries, these principles have been at the base of the Western way of thinking. The practical application of these liberties soon escaped the national level and the need for international agreements was felt. This shift can partly be explained as a result of changing power factors, partly also through culturally defined interpretation problems. A number of examples are presented. The interpretation of communication principles, the MacBride Report, or the New International Information Order, is linked to powershifts on the political and for economic level, as well as to the questioning of their universal validity. The article also adresses the role of the Western newsmedia as agenda setters for the public and political opinion.

Jan Servaes

    In this article a simpte model of Belgian government coalition formation is proposed. Its main advantages over the traditional game theoretical approach are, first, its dynamic nature (explicity linking the outcome of a new 'game' to the characteristics of the previous coalition) and, second, the fact that only one coalition is predicted per 'game '. As a result of the latter characteristic, the integration of this coalition formation submodel in a larger (econometric) politico-economic model should be far less complicated. Moreover, statistical tests indicate that the proposed model works at least as good as the traditional theories, despite its parsimonious nature.

Peter Willemé

    The amount of European level organized interest groups has dramatically increased since the Single European Act came into force in 1987. In 1995 approximately 3000 lobby-groups, employing 10.000 lobbyists, are based in Brussels. This has resulted in a complex arrangement of European interest intermediation and caused important constraints on decision making procedures and institutional actors. The first part of this article offers a discription and evaluation of this proliferation and diversification of European interest groups. It alsosuggests a classification of all European interest groups including professional lobbyists and actors that defend their interests by themselves. The second part gives a discription of the way in which both European Parliament and Commission have dealt with this proliferation and assesses the differences in approachbetween both institutions.

Peter Bursens

Rational choice, sociaal dienstbetoon en de mythe van de collectieve probleemoplossing

De invloed van het politiek dienstbetoon van Vlaamse parlementsleden op de parlementaire functievervulling in 1992-93

Auteurs Sam Depauw

    According to rational choice theory casework is a rational form of political participation for both voter and Member of Parliament. It increases the voter's chance to a redress of grievance and it is an important means for MPs to maximize their votes, which parliamentary activities fail to contribute to. Though rational for individual actors, casework is far from optimal for society as a whole. Disregarding isolated cases, casework does not constitute an important source of inspiration for legislative and oversight activities. A written survey among 101 Flemish MPs tends to show that a collective solution for grievances in great demand is not pursued, as casework seems electorally and personally so much more rewarding. A cure for casework cannot befound, unless it ends this structural attractiveness of constituency service. Disregarding its rationality in isolated cases, casework, because it does not result in collective measures, seems to be a meager substitute for political participation.

Sam Depauw

    Since the creation of the Belgian state in 1830, the kings, head of state, always tried to expand their political influence. Part of this strategy was the treatment of the ministers as individuals, not as a council. The process of democratisation and the development of political parties pushed back this royal influence. In the meantime, as a result of the fact that coalitions were necessary to establish a government, the Council of Ministers was developping more and more as an institution. That was necessary to gain some governmental stability. Thispermanent Council was not stated in the constitution of 1830. King Leopold III did the same during the thirties as his predecessors and tried to block this evolution. The Second World War established the circumstances to expand his power. The Council ofM inisters choosed for the western democracies. Leopold III did not. Nevertheless the dynasty was not treathened but Leopold, who was not able to adapt, had to forsake the throne. After the war, the Council of Ministers was acknowledged as one of the most important institutions of the Belgian political system.

Luc Vandeweyer

    This article deals with the process through which party leaders in the Parti Socialiste were selected in the eighties and the nineties. Despite theparty congress's entitlement to elect leaders, the critical factor in winning the leadership has been endorsement by predecessors. G. Spitaels and Ph. Busquin are cases in point. The congress merely serves as a ritual, as a consequence of which the outcome of the vote is highly predictable, influenced as it is by party events and role-expectations. Socialist party leaders have a wide arsenal at their disposal to rule the party in a rather autoritarian way; a classic example being the plebisciteBusquin provoked in 1994 to expand bis power. How, by whom and to what extent they obtain and enforce this autoritarian power are key questions in this study.

Stefaan Fiers