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Article

Interest Representation in Belgium

Mapping the Size and Diversity of an Interest Group Population in a Multi-layered Neo-corporatist Polity

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 1 2021
Trefwoorden interest groups, advocacy, access, advisory councils, media attention
Auteurs Evelien Willems, Jan Beyers en Frederik Heylen
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article assesses the size and diversity of Belgium’s interest group population by triangulating four data sources. Combining various sources allows us to describe which societal interests get mobilised, which interest organisations become politically active and who gains access to the policy process and obtains news media attention. Unique about the project is the systematic data collection, enabling us to compare interest representation at the national, Flemish and Francophone-Walloon government levels. We find that: (1) the national government level remains an important venue for interest groups, despite the continuous transfer of competences to the subnational and European levels, (2) neo-corporatist mobilisation patterns are a persistent feature of interest representation, despite substantial interest group diversity and (3) interest mobilisation substantially varies across government levels and political-administrative arenas.


Evelien Willems
Evelien Willems is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp. Her research focuses on the interplay between interest groups, public opinion and public policy.

Jan Beyers
Jan Beyers is Full Professor of Political Science at the University of Antwerp. His current research projects focus on how interest groups represent citizens interests and to what extent the politicization of public opinion affects processes of organized interest representation in public policymaking.

Frederik Heylen
Frederik Heylen holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Antwerp. His doctoral dissertation addresses the organizational development of civil society organizations and its internal and external consequences for interest representation. He is co-founder and CEO of Datamarinier.
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

How to Improve Local Turnout

The Effect of Municipal Efforts to Improve Turnout in Dutch Local Elections

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 3 2019
Trefwoorden turnout, local elections, get out the vote, campaign, the Netherlands
Auteurs Julien van Ostaaijen, Sabine van Zuydam en Martijn Epskamp
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Even though many municipalities use a variety of means to improve turnout in local elections, citizen participation in local elections is a point of concern in many Western countries, including the Netherlands. Our research question is therefore: How effective are municipal efforts to improve turnout in (Dutch) local elections? To this end, we collected data from three sources: (1) a survey sent to the municipal clerks of 389 Dutch municipalities to learn what they do to improve turnout; (2) data from Statistics Netherlands on municipalities’ socio-demographic characteristics; and (3) data on the turnout in local elections from the Dutch Electoral Council database. Using hierarchical multiple regression analysis, we found that the direct impact of local governments’ efforts to improve turnout is low. Nevertheless, some measures seem to be able to make a difference. The relative number of polling stations was especially found to impact turnout.


Julien van Ostaaijen
Julien van Ostaaijen is assistant professor of public administration at the Tilburg Institute of Governance (Tilburg University).

Sabine van Zuydam
Sabine van Zuydam is assistant professor of public administration at the Tilburg Institute of Governance (Tilburg University) and researcher at Necker van Naem.

Martijn Epskamp
Martijn Epskamp is a researcher of the municipality of Rotterdam (Research and Business Intelligence department)
Article

Access_open Do Characteristics of Consociational Democracies Still Apply to Belgian Parties?

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 1 2019
Trefwoorden Belgium, political parties, party membership, political participation, political representation
Auteurs Emilie Van Haute en Bram Wauters
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Belgium has long been described as a typical case of a consociational or consensus democracy. This article aims at identifying whether political parties in Belgium share the internal characteristics of parties in consensus democracies: passive mass memberships, the importance of purposive and material incentives for joining, and representation of a clear subculture in the social and attitudinal profiles of their members and via overlapping memberships with related organizations. We mobilize longitudinal party membership data and party member surveys conducted in three different time periods. We show that pillar parties still exercise their role of mobilization and representation of societal segments, but these segments tend to become smaller over time. New parties offer alternative options of mobilization and representation, although not always in line with the specific institutional arrangements of consociational democracy.


Emilie Van Haute
Emilie Van Haute, Cevipol, Université libre de Bruxelles.

Bram Wauters
Bram Wauters, Research Group GASPAR, Ghent University.
Artikel

E-democracy: meer demos door digitale revolutie?

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 2 2017
Auteurs Tamara Metze PhD. en Colette Cuijpers PhD.
Samenvatting

    E-democracy incorporates digital tools, the internet and social media to enhance democracy. There are many of these tools available to improve governmental responsiveness, transparency, and accountability, but also to support the inclusiveness, representativeness and influence of citizens’ participation. Examples are online petitions, apps for neighborhood watches, wikiplanning and social media monitoring. Web 3.0, which is more interactive and less location specific, enables governments to take a more personalized approach. It also allows for participation across administrative and geographical boundaries. In this symposium two contributions address the question of the influence of e-democracy on the democratization of governmental decision-making, information and service delivery, and of citizens’ participation.


Tamara Metze PhD.

Colette Cuijpers PhD.
Artikel

De demos digitaal bekrachtigd?

Zes e-democracy cases uit binnen- en buitenland

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 2 2017
Trefwoorden Ict, Vergelijking / comparison, Innovatie / innovation, Democratie / democracy, Case study
Auteurs Merlijn van Hulst, Colette Cuijpers, Frank Hendriks e.a.
Samenvatting

    E-democracy incorporates digital tools, the internet and social media to enhance democracy. There are many of these tools available to improve governmental responsiveness, transparency, and accountability, but also to support the inclusiveness, representativeness and influence of citizens’ participation. Examples are online petitions, apps for neighborhood watches, wikiplanning and social media monitoring. Web 3.0, which is more interactive and less location specific, enables governments to take a more personalized approach. It also allows for participation across administrative and geographical boundaries. In this symposium two contributions address the question of the influence of e-democracy on the democratization of governmental decision-making, information and service delivery, and of citizens’ participation.


Merlijn van Hulst

Colette Cuijpers

Frank Hendriks

Tamara Metze

    The recruitment and selection of candidate (municipal) councillors by political parties at the local level is an underexposed area of research. This is noteworthy because of the explicit worries about the lack of suitable candidates and about the underrepresentation of certain groups in society. These kinds of nomination problems may also arise from the manner in which parties recruit and which requirements they have for potential candidates. Therefore this article explores recruitment and selection processes at the local level in order to be able to designate possible causes of these nomination problems. The exploratory research involves case studies of the selectors, candidates and the nomination procedure of seven political parties that took part in the municipal elections of 2014 in a typical, average Dutch municipality in the west of the Netherlands: Voorschoten (25,000 inhabitants). The local party elite mainly recruited party members and some non-party members from their own networks, such as local associations. Thus groups in society that are not part of these networks, are less likely to appear in the picture. Active party membership and the willingness to invest a lot of time in their council work appeared to be the highest appreciated characteristics of the ideal councillor according to interviews with the local party elite and a survey amongst the candidate councillors. With a declining number of party members and other ways to spend their time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit non-pensioners as candidates.


Maurits Grimberg MSc
M.R. Grimberg MSc is als militair werkzaam bij de Kernstaf van het Commando Luchtstrijdkrachten, binnen de sectie Coördinatie en Investeringsplannen. In april 2014 studeerde hij af aan de Universiteit Leiden in de Politieke Wetenschap bij Hans Vollaard op een masterthesis over de totstandkoming van een kandidatenlijst in de gemeente Voorschoten.

Dr. Hans Vollaard
Dr. J.P. Vollaard is universitair docent Nederlandse en Europese politiek binnen het Instituut Politieke Wetenschap van de Universiteit Leiden.
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