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Article

Access_open Voters of Populist Parties and Support for Reforms of Representative Democracy in Belgium

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden Belgian politics, democratic reforms, elections, populist voters, representative democracy
Auteurs Lisa van Dijk, Thomas Legein, Jean-Benoit Pilet e.a.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Recently, studies have burgeoned on the link between populism and demands for democratic reforms. In particular, scholars have been debating the link between populist citizens or voters and support for referendums. In this article, we examine voters of populist parties (Vlaams Belang (VB) and Parti du Travail de Belgique-Partij van de Arbeid (PTB-PVDA)) in Belgium in 2019 and we look at their attitudes towards various types of democratic reforms. We find that voters of populist parties differ from the non-populist electorate in their support for different kinds of reforms of representative democracy. Voters of VB and PTB-PVDA have in common stronger demands for limiting politicians’ prerogatives, for introducing binding referendums and for participatory budgeting. While Vlaams Belang voters are not significantly different from the non-populist electorate on advisory referendums, citizens’ forums or technocratic reform, PVDA-PTB voters seem more enthusiastic.


Lisa van Dijk
Lisa van Dijk (corresponding author), KU Leuven.

Thomas Legein
Thomas Legein, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

Jean-Benoit Pilet
Jean-Benoit Pilet, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

Sofie Marien
Sofie Marien, KU Leuven.
Article

Access_open The Feminisation of Belgian Local Party Politics

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 2 2020
Trefwoorden local politics, local party branches, local elections, gender quotas, Belgium
Auteurs Robin Devroe, Silvia Erzeel en Petra Meier
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article investigates the feminisation of local politics. Starting from the observation that the representation of women in local electoral politics lags behind the regional and federal level, and taking into account the relevance of local party branches in the recruitment and selection of candidates for elections, we examine the extent to which there is an ‘internal’ feminisation of local party branches and how this links to the ‘external’ feminisation of local electoral politics. Based on surveys among local party chairs, the article maps patterns of feminisation over time and across parties, investigates problems local branches encounter in the recruitment of candidates for local elections, and analyses the (attitudes towards the) measures taken to further the integration of women in local electoral politics. We conclude that internal and external feminisation do not always go hand in hand and that local politics continues to be a male-dominated political biotope.


Robin Devroe
Robin Devroe is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Political Sciences of Ghent University and member of the research group GASPAR. Her main research interest is the study of the political representation of diverse social groups and voting behaviour, with a specific focus on the descriptive representation of women, and she has a fascination for experimental methods. Her doctoral work (2019, Ghent University) focused on the prevalence of political gender stereotypes among Flemish voters. In the past, Robin was a visiting scholar at Texas A&M University (2018, US). Since 2020, she has been co-convenor of the European Consortium for Political Research’s (ECPR’s) Group on Gender and Politics.

Silvia Erzeel
Silvia Erzeel is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her research interests include party politics, political representation, gender and intersectionality, and comparative politics. Her current research focuses on three main areas: the integration of gender equality in political parties, intersectionality and political representation in Europe, and the consequences of economic and social inequality for representative democracy. Since 2018, she has been co-convenor of the European Consortium for Political Research’s (ECPR’s) Standing Group on Gender and Politics.

Petra Meier
Petra Meier is Professor of Politics at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Antwerp. Her research focuses on the (re)presentation of gender+ in politics and policies. Late work focused on the conceptualisation of symbolic representation, how it operates and the issues at stake from an inclusive perspective. Recently, she turned to study democratic deficits in federal systems, especially Belgium, and processes of de-democratisation in general. She is particularly interested in understanding how such processes affect the demos, more particularly from a gender, an LGBTQI or an ethnic perspective, and what dynamics of marginalisation and exclusion they generate.
Article

Split Offer and Homogeneous Response in Belgium

The Conceptual and Empirical Limitations of (De)Nationalization

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 2 2019
Trefwoorden (de-)nationalization, voting behaviour, party offer, voter response, methodological nationalism
Auteurs Luana Russo, Kris Deschouwer en Tom Verthé
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    By examining the Belgian case, this article aims to show that methodological nationalism is strongly present in the literature on nationalization of party offer and voting behaviour. In nationalization studies, Belgium is often presented as a typical example of a denationalized country. This is true for the party offer, as it is de facto split between the two language groups since the 1980s, and therefore also voter response at the national level. However, voter response within each separate subnational party system is very homogeneous and shows interesting differences between these party systems that inform us about important electoral dynamics. We argue, on the basis of our results, that rather than stretching the concept of nationalization, it is preferable and justified to treat the concepts of nationalization of the party offer and homogenization of voter response as analytically distinct and not as two sides of the same coin.


Luana Russo
Luana Russo, Maastricht University.

Kris Deschouwer
Kris Deschouwer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Tom Verthé
Tom Verthé, Ghent University & Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Article

Consensus Democracy and Bureaucracy in the Low Countries

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 1 2019
Trefwoorden consensus democracy, bureaucracy, governance system, Lijphart, policymaking
Auteurs Frits van der Meer, Caspar van den Berg, Charlotte van Dijck e.a.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Taking Lijphart’s work on consensus democracies as our point of departure, we signal a major shortcoming in Lijphart’s focus being almost exclusively on the political hardware of the state structure, leaving little attention for the administrative and bureaucratic characteristics of governance systems. We propose to expand the Lijphart’s model which overviews structural aspects of the executive and the state with seven additional features of the bureaucratic system. We argue that these features are critical for understanding the processes of policymaking and service delivery. Next, in order to better understand the functioning of the Netherlands and Belgium as consensus democracies, we provide a short analysis of the historical context and current characteristics of the political-administrative systems in both countries.


Frits van der Meer
Frits van der Meer, Professor Institute Public Administration, Leiden University.

Caspar van den Berg
Caspar van den Berg, Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen.

Charlotte van Dijck
Charlotte van Dijck, PhD Fellow Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), KU Leuven Public Governance Institute.

Gerrit Dijkstra
Gerrit Dijkstra, Senior Lecturer, Leiden University.

Trui Steen
Trui Steen, Professor, KU Leuven Public Governance Institute.
Article

Verticale politieke cumul in de Lage Landen: evolutie en verklaringen

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 3 2017
Trefwoorden Cumul des mandats, Multiple office-holding, Members of parliament, Local representatives, Central-local relations
Auteurs Nicolas Van de Voorde
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Studies have shown that multiple office-holding, a practice that denotes the simultaneous exercise of any directly elected municipal mandate and parliamentary seat, is more commonplace in European national parliaments than expected. However, research in Belgium, and especially in the Netherlands, is scarce and extremely fragmented. Therefore, our analysis provides a systematic comparison between the Low Countries with a longitudinal focus. In the first part of the paper, the frequency of the practice is described and its evolution in the last two decades tracked. In the second part, we provide aggregated explanations for the identified discrepancy. Indeed, our results show that after the most recent elections, more than 80% of all Belgian members of parliament held a local mandate, and this percentage increased by 10% during our reference period. In contrast, 9 out of 150 members of the Dutch Second Chamber were combining several offices at the beginning of their national mandate, while the degree of cumulards remained stable. Unexpectedly, the legislative framework and the party regulations are not the source of this deviation, as they are almost identical in both countries. We argue that the difference can be attributed to the role and position of the local government, the political culture and the electoral system.


Nicolas Van de Voorde
Nicolas Van de Voorde is als FWO-aspirant verbonden aan het Centrum voor Lokale Politiek aan de Universiteit Gent. Zijn onderzoek is gericht op het fenomeen cumul des mandats in de Belgische context.
Artikel

Monitoring van sociale media: op weg naar een Brave New Democracy?

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 2 2017
Trefwoorden social media monitoring, democracy, responsiveness, privacy
Auteurs Dr. Arthur Edwards en Dr. Dennis de Kool
Samenvatting

    Social media monitoring is a topical and relevant phenomenon. It enables civil servants and politicians to gauge the sentiments voiced on social media, on the basis of which they are in a better position to take into account the wishes and needs of citizens. Social media monitoring is primarily used for rational and strategic purposes. In terms of democratic legitimacy, it may enhance the quality of the processes on the output side of the political system, i.e. authorities can be more responsive and can fine tune public policies. There also threats for the relation between citizens and government. When citizens communicate on networks they perceive as private, social media monitoring can be seen as an intrusion into their private sphere. This not only concerns individual privacy but also an interpersonal private sphere in terms of the right that people have to define a domain within which they can exchange experiences with peers. Transparency and accountability are therefore important conditions for the application of this instrument.


Dr. Arthur Edwards

Dr. Dennis de Kool
Artikel

Parliamentary oversight via evaluaties?

De positie van het Vlaams parlement in een internationale context

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 2 2016
Trefwoorden beleidsevaluatie / policy evaluation, Wetsevaluatie / law evaluation, Parlement / parliament, ex post / ex post, Vlaanderen / Flanders
Auteurs Peter Van Humbeeck en Prof. Dr. Tim Buyse
Samenvatting

    Ex post evaluation is important for various reasons, in particular also from the perspective of parliaments. Evaluations feed and deepen the democratic debate by adding evidence on the results and real world impacts of laws. This strengthens each of the three institutional tasks of parliaments (initiating and approving laws, supervising government and approving the budget). Yet few parliaments in OECD countries have deployed ex post evaluation systematically.
    While the rationale for ex post evaluation is broadly understood, initiatives often run into political logics. The role that parliaments play also differs greatly between countries. There is no clear best practice. Ambition, tradition, culture, political will, capacity and resources determine what is possible and desirable. A positive trend is however noticeable.
    Building on examples and experiences in several parliaments, we make some recommendations to upgrade ex post evaluation practice within Parliaments. We elaborate on the Flanders’ case, where the Parliament is looking for mechanisms to extend its role in ex post evaluation. We recommend i.a. the introduction of an annual momentum on which the results of Government policies can be discussed and the performance of a number of ex post evaluations by the Parliament following the example of the French system of ‘rapports d’information’.


Peter Van Humbeeck

Prof. Dr. Tim Buyse
Artikel

De parlementarisatie van Europees economisch beleid

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 2 2016
Trefwoorden European Parliament, politicisation, economic policy, democratic deficit
Auteurs Dr. Adriaan Schout, Jan Marinus Wiersma, Mariana Gomes Neto e.a.
Samenvatting

    Since the euro crisis the EU has seen a deepening of integration with a new framework for economic and budgetary coordination. With the new framework reforms in pension or housing market are coordinated at the European level. This comprehensive set of rules and monitoring mechanisms has revived the debate on Europe’s democratic deficit. This article describes how the European Parliament (EP) tries to fill the democratic void in economic governance. The EP’s formal role is limited, but by using mostly informal mechanisms the EP is setting in motion an incremental process towards further control. This development should be seen in light of a political battle on the interpretation of the new rules, which has accordingly become increasingly politicized. The Dutch have always wanted a European economic policy on the basis of technocracy and rules, but at the same time Europe’s political union draws ever closer.


Dr. Adriaan Schout

Jan Marinus Wiersma

Mariana Gomes Neto

David Bokhorst
Article

Vragen naar de bekende weg?

Een analyse van informatiebronnen waarop schriftelijke vragen over Europese zaken in de Nederlandse Tweede Kamer zijn gebaseerd

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 2 2016
Trefwoorden national parliaments, European Union, parliamentary questions, the Netherlands
Auteurs Rik de Ruiter, Jelmer Schalk en Yorick van Rijthoven
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This paper analyses the information sources members of the Dutch Lower House base their questions on with regard to EU affairs in the period 1995-2013. Knowledge of the type of information sources to base questions on is vital for determining what the conditions are under which members of national parliaments can scrutinize the decisions taken by the national government at the EU level. The involvement of national parliaments in EU affairs is according to many scholars a necessary condition for closing the democratic deficit of the European Union, especially when the turnout in elections for the European Parliament remains low and for national parliaments remains stable and relatively high. An original dataset is constructed including all sets of written parliamentary questions on EU affairs asked by Dutch MPs in the period 1995-2013, categorized by different types of information sources on which the question is based. These different categories of information sources are regressed with a variable measuring the Treaty changes impacting on the intensity of contact between MPs of different national parliaments and several variables measuring the characteristics of Dutch MPs and their parties. The findings indicate that Dutch MPs base their written questions primarily on coverage on EU affairs by national newspapers. Moreover, MPs are more likely to use sources rooted in a national context for asking questions when they are a member of a party with a negative attitude towards European integration. These findings imply that parliamentary control via written questions over the decisions of the national executive at the EU level can be strengthened by increasing national media coverage on EU affairs, allowing the EU public sphere to develop further in the future.


Rik de Ruiter
Rik de Ruiter is als universitair docent Bestuurskunde verbonden aan het Instituut Bestuurskunde van de Universiteit Leiden. Zijn onderzoeksinteresse gaat uit naar politiek, beleid en bestuur van de Europese Unie.

Jelmer Schalk
Jelmer Schalk is als universitair docent bestuurskunde verbonden aan het Instituut Bestuurskunde van de Universiteit Leiden. Zijn onderzoeksinteresse gaat uit naar publiek management, interorganisationele netwerken en sociale netwerkanalyse.

Yorick van Rijthoven
Yorick van Rijthoven (MSc.) is een recent afgestudeerd bestuurskundige aan de Universiteit Leiden en heeft zich gespecialiseerd in internationale en Europese bestuurskunde. Zijn onderzoeksinteresse gaat uit naar o.a. interparlementaire samenwerking over EU-aangelegenheden, het EU-besluitvormingsproces en (internationaal) publiek management.
Article

Gender en etniciteit in de Tweede Kamer: streefcijfers en groepsvertegenwoordiging

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 3 2013
Trefwoorden quotas, target numbers, political representation, affirmative action, ethnicity, gender
Auteurs Liza Mügge en Alyt Damstra
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Women and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in national parliaments around the world. Interestingly, in the Netherlands ethnic minority women are better represented than ethnic minority men and ethnic majority women. The Netherlands did not adopt gender quotas, but some parties implemented target numbers. Drawing on document analysis and interviews, this article explores whether parties that encourage women’s representation are also likely to increase the number of ethnic minority representatives. It finds that party-specific factors such as a left or social democratic ideology, the institutionalization of gender and/or ethnicity within the party and the party’s vision on group representation are intertwined. Parties that actively encourage women’s representation are more inclined to openly acknowledge the importance of ethnic diversity. This especially favours ethnic minority women, who benefit from the strong embedding of gender. In the end gender determines the success of the ethnic card in political representation.


Liza Mügge
Liza Mügge is universitair docent aan de afdeling politicologie van de Universiteit van Amsterdam en Associate Director van het Amsterdam Research Center for Gender & Sexuality (ARC-GS).

Alyt Damstra
Alyt Damstra volgt de Research Master Social Sciences en is student-assistent aan de afdeling politicologie van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.
Article

Het democratisch mandaat van Nederlandse politieke partijen: crisis of continuïteit?

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 4 2012
Trefwoorden party mandate, political representation, political parties, Dutch national elections, parliamentary behaviour
Auteurs Tom Louwerse
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article studies the extent to which Dutch political parties fulfil their electoral mandates. The central question is how collective mandate fulfilment has developed over the last sixty years. Increasing electoral volatility, changes in party organizations and the rise of populist parties could have resulted in a decrease of party mandate fulfilment. Contrary to previous studies, this article studies the mandate in terms of congruence between the electoral and parliamentary party competition. This allows for the study of opposition parties’ mandate fulfilment. Election manifestos and parliamentary debates are studied for six elections and the subsequent parliaments (between 1950-2006). The structure of the party competition is rather congruent before and after elections for all of the cases, except 1972-1977. There is no evidence for a decline of the degree to which parties collectively fulfil their electoral mandates.


Tom Louwerse
Tom Louwerse is als postdoctoraal onderzoeker en docent verbonden aan het Instituut voor Politieke Wetenschap van de Universiteit Leiden. Zijn onderzoek richt zich voornamelijk op politieke representatie, politieke partijen en het parlement.
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