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Tijdschrift Res Publica x Jaar 1995 x Rubriek Article x

Urban conflict and voting pattern

some tentative generalizations from the last state election in Hamburg

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 2 1995
Auteurs Wolfgang Jagodzinski, Jürgen Friedrichs en Hermann Dülmer

    During the last years immigration has aggravated the socialproblems in many disadvantaged urban districts. High proportions of foreigners are concentrating in those areas which suffer from unemployment and bad housing conditions. The accumulation of social problems has created a climate of insecurity, social prejudices, and political dissatisfaction. Since political discontent presently is not remedied by the established political parties, it results in low voting participation and increasing proportions of right wing votes. The close connection between the intensity of social problems on the one side, low voter turnout and high success of right extremist parties on the other side, is empirically established by an ecological analysis of the recent state elections in Hamburg.

Wolfgang Jagodzinski

Jürgen Friedrichs

Hermann Dülmer

    Several tendencies in the process of political decision-making in Belgium tend to put under strain the official model of representative democracy. One of these evolutions is the set up of many advisory councils, and especially the dynamism of some of these advisory councils to move up to participation in the decision-making itself. The process starts at the functional basis of the advisory councils: an information function, an advice function, a function to make proposals, an investigation function and a selection function. It is possible to get to the care of the decision for reason of a liability to advice, the quality as regards content of the advice, the composition of the councils and the appeal to the public opinion. The dysfunctions are the obstacles that need to be advoided: the alibi function, a basis for non-decision, the delay and concealing of the decision-making itself, a certain obliqueness in the composition and the undermining of the representative function of parliament.

Wilfried Dewachter

    In this article the spread of demonstrations - a political activity that situates itself in the middle on the scale of conventional - unconventional political action - is studied. The rare survey of the effective participation in demonstrations in Belgium shows that it is rather high. An extensive minority of some 20 to 25% ofthe Belgians declares to have participated in a demonstration. These figures modify the image of the passive, indifferent citizen that research of conventional political participation has shown. The spread of the participation in demonstrations according to age and professional activity, moreover, differs from the pattern found in conventional participation. Demonstrating is typical behaviour of the younger age-categories and therefore of students, but also of farmers, blue collar workers and lower-ranked white collar workers. From this survey follow a number of results connected to the use of demonstrations and the number of demonstrators during the period 1953-74. Related statistics indicate that the number of demonstrations and demonstrators increases, the latter not to the same extent as the farmer however. Furthermore it appears that students, labor unions and agricultural organizations have often come to the streets to enforce their demands. Thematically speaking, particularly problems related to traditional cleavages in Belgian polities have been theobject of demonstrations: ideological, socio-economic and linguistic issues. Organizations active in the area of this cleavages are able to mobilize a great number ofdemonstrators. These organizations are for the most part pillarized and structurally well-developed. Nevertheless the division between issues and organizations during the period 1953-74 has become less unequal. During the sixties and the early seventies the share of traditional cleavages in the number of demonstrations and demonstrators is becoming smaller. New organizations areusing demonstrations more and more to put new issues (environment, foreign policy, quality ofdemocracy, etc.) on the political agenda. They have, however, not the same power to mobilise as do the pillarized organizations.

Jozef Smits

    In this contribution, different elements which clarify the influence of the four yearly social elections on workers'participation are brought together. The author explains that representatives of only two advisory bodies on company level are elected. Nevertheless the social elections have an effect on a broader scale. The elections play a part in the protection of representatives in the trade union delegation, a third representative body on company level. Furthermore the elections can affect the relations which are situated above the company level (relations inside a trade union, between different trade unions and possibly hetween trade unions and the world of politics). Moreover a growing package of powers is granted to the workers' representatives. There is however an important difference between the social and the political elections. Political elections can cause a genuine change of power, social elections on the other hand can never change the postwar basic compromise: the employer preserves most of the decision power. The author outlines furthermore the battle necks of this participation mechanism. The most important bottleneck certainly is the low turn out of candidates for the social elections. For the first time this problem is analysed sectoraly over a longer period of time. It is concluded that there are great differences not only between the economic sectors and the non-economic sectors, but also between the economic sectors themselves. The author also indicates that the decline of active participation in the economic sector since 1975 is mainly situated in seven sectors, which deliver altogether 60% of the mandates in the profit sector. Finally the author touches upon two more bottlenecks, which are already discussed before but which remain nevertheless very important: the low presence of women as candidates and likewise in the distribution of seats, furthermore the relatively great amount of invalid votes in the electoral colleges of workers and young people.

Henk Dejonckheere
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