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Aflevering 2, 1996 Alle samenvattingen uitklappen

Comparing similar countries: Italy and Belgium

Auteurs Lieven De Winter, Donatella Della Porta en Kris Deschouwer

Lieven De Winter

Donatella Della Porta

Kris Deschouwer

    Our analysis indicates that it is correct to interpret non-participation and a vote for the Extreme Right as at least partly due to a legitimation crisis which seems to be the expression of a new alignment of values. This alignment describes a deep cultural cleavage that divides the higher from the less educated. People who hold pronounced positions on this alignment are more likely than others to turn away from the established, "traditional" parties. People with the values and attitudes typical of the "progressive" or "new left'' side of the cleavage, vote disproportionately for the Greens. People with the values and attitudes typical of the "conservative" or "new right" side of the cleavage, opt disproportionately for non-participation and for the Extreme Right. In the recent political debate in Flanders, both non-participation and the Extreme Right have been regarded as symptoms of a legitimation crisis, and ofpolitical protest. The difference between the two expressions of cultural opposition or political protest can be understood as a choice for either an "exit" or a "voice" option. People select the "exit" option when they feel especially politically powerless. The "voice"-option is chosen by people for which the value conflict over the position of"migrants" is the most salient issue. The long term causes of the symptoms of a legitimation crisis seem to be the growing economic and cultural gap between the higher and less educated, and the ensuing growth of a conflict in which cultural and social-economic differences are strongly linked.

Mark Elchardus

Anton Derks

    Since the November 1991 elections, it has become a common statement to argue that Belgium has entered a -possibly unprecedented- period ofchange and instability. This article focuses on the evolution of the electoral system and electoral behaviour, in order to test this widely agreed-upon judgement. All things considered, one observes that the electoral system has not been radically modified since World War II. In spite of the transformation of the country into a federal state and several severe conflicts, political decision-makers have opted for the 'fine-tuning" of the electoral system instead of radical reforms. As far as electoral behaviour is concerned, the picture is less clear. On one hand, relying on various indicators, one does observe that the early 1990s were characterised by change and transformation. On the other hand, one cannot conclude that the amplitude of change or instability in the early 1990s has been "exceptional" or "unprecedented" as compared with earlier periods. Building upon this ambiguous diagnosis, the author speculates on the probability of a major breakdown of the Belgian political system at the turn of the century.

Benoît Rihoux

Change in the Italian party system

Auteurs Luciano Bardi

    The article attempts to trace the origins and to assess the extent ofparty-system change in Italy in the 1990s. It also examines some hypotheses on the possible causes of such changes. Building on research on anti-party sentiment and on changes in party organization the paper begins with an analysis of the evolution of the party system in the last 30 years which identifies organizational adaptation as a delaying factor in party system change. This is followed by a description of the party system after the 1994 elections based on generally accepted party system characteristics and indicators (volatility, number ofparties, ideological distance). The assessment is made difficult by the, perhaps temporary, coexistence of two party-systems, respectively relevant for electoral and inter-election competition. The evidence however, suggests, that party-system transformation is under way, while it might still be inappropriate to talk about structural change. Degeneration of parties and a deep institutional crisis appear to be the factors leading to the explosion of pent-up alienation and antiparty sentiments, and to demands for institutional and constitutional change that preceded and appeared to be the immediate causes of party system transformation.

Luciano Bardi

Waiting for 'The big one'

The uncertain survival of the Belgian Parties and Party Systems(S)

Auteurs Kris Deschouwer

    The Belgian party system is aften considered to be or to have been very stable. This article investigates the possibility of the Belgian parties and party systems to 'go Italian ', i.e. to be confronted with a radicial change resulting from a fundamental lack of legitimacy. This problem of legitimation can be expected from the fact that Belgium is a very consociational democracy, in which the parties play a very important role, but tend to become very entangled with the state. The split of the national parties and the federal reform of the state have made the decision-making structures even more complex than before, and have therefore not at all reduced the 'partitocratic' nature of the system. For these reasons a future Italian-style collapse of the parties and the party systems is certainly not to be excluded.

Kris Deschouwer

    The article deals with the evolution and transformation of Italian party government in the period 1948-1996. Considering the two crucial dimensions of "government formation" and "cabinet organization and decision-making", the article compares the period before and after 1992 (till the elections of April 1996). The comparison shows the extraordinary experience of the Jour years 1992-1996: universally defined as the years of the "Italian transition". If the parties controlled both the processes of government formation and cabinet decisionmaking in the period 1948-1992, in the following period of 1992-1996 both processes were controlled more by the president of the Republic (and by the "technical" president of Council of ministers selected by him) than by the parties (with the partial exception of the Berlusconi government of May-December 1994). Theparties were so unimportant in the four years of the Italian transition, that we can define this one as a period of an unprecedented semipresidentialism with residual party government.

Sergio Fabbrini

    The grip of political parties of central government actors (cabinet, parliament, the bureaucracy, judidiary) in Belgium was most striking in the 1970s and 1980s. In this period Belgium, like Italy, constitutes a very strong case of partitocracy. Yet, white the Italian partitocrazia collapsed brusquely in the early 1990s, the Belgian particratie underwent a number of gradual modifications (some imposed by external factors, others were the product of genuine voluntarist autocorrections), which prevented the complete collapse of the partitocratic system and to some degree restored the governability of the country. This article presents for each sector of central government first the main features as they were under full partitocratic rule during the 1970s and 1980s. Second, it indicates which corrections were introduced, that reduced the (negative consequences of) the grip of political parties on central government actors, structures and processes. Finally, it discusses the problem of the public debt and policy inertia.

Lieven De Winter

Controlling political corruption in Italy

What did not work, what can be done

Auteurs Donatella Della Porta en Alberto Vannucci

    The paper dealt with the control on political corruption in Italy, in particular with the reasons why most of the control mechanisms did not work for a long time, allowingfor the development of"tangentopoli". First of all, we briefly discussed the reasons why the controls ''from below"--that is, from citizens or electors--did not function in Italy: the pervasive occupation of the administration and the civil society by the political parties, as well as "secret" agreements between political parties in order to avoid political scandals were discussed. The paper continued by analyzing two types of institutional control: the administrative controls and the judiciary controls. In the second part, we presented some main characteristics of the Italian public administration that hampered internal controls, the informal control of parties over the bureaucrats through clientelism and complicity in corruption being one among them. In the third part, we focused on the peculiar characteristics of a magistracy that enjoyed of a very high degree of format autonomy from the political power, but was "pushed" towards politics for reasons as different as complicity in corruption and the need to "substitute" for the weak policy making capacity of political parties. In the fourth part, we reviewed some (implemented of planned) reform bills to deal with the control of political corruption.

Donatella Della Porta

Alberto Vannucci

The Political role of the judiciary

The Belgian case

Auteurs Lode Van Outrive

    We set out by tracking the political vicissitudes of the administration of justice and their connections with a range of phenomena: the neglect by politicians; a series of events and scandals and the very curious reactions of the judicial apparatus; several parliamentary investigation commissions without much effect. Then we take a critical look at partisan politicisation of the magistrature: negative evalution of their output thrives to it; but there are also partisan appointments and promotions, even absence and refusal of training. Many contextual factors hinder a normal, acceptable process of politicisation: over- and underregulation, bad legislation, misconception on control over the administration of justice and over judges, non-democratic decisionmaking within the organisation of the magistrature, the development of wrong relationship inside the trias politica; but also other more external conditions were not met neither. We wind up with an examination of the assesment of recent governmental proposals: an improvement of criminal and judicial inquiries; foundation of a national advisory body for the magistrature; simplification of the legislation; modernisation of the courts activities; a more objective recruitment and selection system; more easy access to justice etc. The question raises as to wether it suffices to tinker with the sy stem of the administration of justice alone... Between the Belgian and the Italian situations are similarities and relevant differences.

Lode Van Outrive

After the breakdown of the "First Republic"

a turning-point for the Italian Extreme Right?

Auteurs Marco Tarchi

    The position of the extreme right within the Italian political system has been modified since 1993. A larger political space became available to the rightwing parties when some of the pillars of the "First Republic" governmental coalitions collapsed. The most representative party of this area, the MSI, is experiencing an ideological and organizational change which started by the assumption of the new label "Alleanza Nazionale". In this article we try to explain why the shape and logic of the clientelistic and partitocratie Italian system can be hold responsible for the success of the MSI and to discuss some organizational, ideological and political aspects of its change into the AN. We also analyze the chances of success for the movements of the populist Radical Right, whose strategy is mainly related to the emergence of the immigration cleavage, in a country were the dissatisfaction for the working of democracy is still widespread.

Marco Tarchi

On the 'Two Faces' of right-wing extremism in Belgium

Confronting the ideology of extreme right-wing parties in Belgium with the attitudes and motives of their voters

Auteurs Hans De Witte

    In this article, we analyse the ideological differences between extreme rightwing parties and their voters in the Flemish and Walloon part of Belgium. Extreme right-wing ideology consists of five core elements: (biological) racism, extreme ethnic nationalism, the leadership principle, anti-parliamentarianism and an anti-leftist attitude. All these attitudes refer to the basic value of rightwing extremism: the belief in the inequality of individuals and (ethnic) groups. An analysis of the ideology of the Vlaams Blok in Flanders shows that it adheres to these core elements of extreme right-wing ideology. An analysis of the attitudes and motives of the voters of this party, however, shows that they cannot be considered as right-wing extremists. The ideological gap between the Vlaams Blok and its electorate is due to the strategy of this party, since it cultivates 'two faces': a populist, moderate face in order to attract votes, and a radical extreme rightwingface in order to recruit and motivate militants. In Wallonia, less is known about the ideology of right-wing parties and that of their voters. Current research however, suggests that the conclusions from Flemish research may very well be generalized to Wallonia as well.

Hans De Witte

Regionalism, federalism and minority rights

The Italian case

Auteurs Mario Dani

    Three distinctive dynamics may be identified in the post-war developmentsof territorial and minority rights polities in Italy. The first focuses on recession attempts in peripheral areas in the aftermath of the world war, and on their interplay with the regional reform. The second peaks in the late '60s-early '70s, and relates territorial minorities' demands for recognition to broader protest movements and 'internal colonialism 'perspectives. The third consists of the recent success of regional Leagues in the North, and largely reverses previous approaches to territorial issues. Autonomy is still emphasized here, yet disconnected from, and often in explicit opposition to, social equality ideas. 'Minority rights' are largely replaced with a peculiar version of territorial populist politics.

Mario Dani

'Divided we stand'

Regionalism, federalism and minority rights in Belgium

Auteurs Ruth Van Dyck

    In the present Belgian situation the three major ethnic groups (Dutch-speaking Flemings, Francophone Walloons and 'Bruxellois ') share the belief that they are culturally, economically and/or politically dominated by the other linguistic community. This article expounds the thesis that these minority feelings are embedded in different interest which are legitimized by a discourse on democracy. Both Flemings and Francophones defend their own perceived interests and thereby develop a view on their interethnic relations that is either of a 'regulated democracy ' or of a 'liberal democracy ' kind, according to the situation. This political 'war of words' is nowadays concentrated on those are as that were left 'untouched' by the recent decentralization and federalization of the country which was designed to defuse the ethnic tinder-box. These remaining stumble blocks concern the position of the Flemings within the Brussels Region and that of the Francophones in the Brussels periphery and along the language border. The article starts with a short historical overview of the Belgian intergroup conflict to provide a better understanding of the present-day democracy discourse.

Ruth Van Dyck

The partitocracy of health

Towards a new welfare politics in Italy?

Auteurs Maurizio Ferrera

    This article illustrates the relationships between political parties and the healthcare sector in Italy since the 1950s. The several was though which parties have "exploited" health policics are explored, ranging from the selective extension of care entitlements to the various occupational categories to the clientelistic ties with doctors, from the placement of party personnell in the various administrative posts to illegal financing. The author argues that the partitocratie exploitation of the health care sector has greatly contributed to the failure of the 1978 reform establishing a National Health Service. This failure has in its turn backlashed against the partitocratic government, accellerating its demise in the early 1990s. The article concludes with some considerations on the future of Italy's health policy and, more generally, welfare state policy.

Maurizio Ferrera

Mario Telo


Auteurs Editor Res Publica

Editor Res Publica