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Article

An Actor Approach to Mediatization

Linking Politicians’ Media Perceptions, Communication Behaviour and Appearances in the News

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering Online First 2020
Trefwoorden mediatization, politicians, news media, media perceptions, news management
Auteurs Pauline Ketelaars en Peter Van Aelst
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In the light of the broader debate on the mediatization of politics, this study wants to better understand how the media perceptions and media behaviour of politicians are related to their appearances in the news. We opt for an innovative actor-centred approach to actually measure the views and actions of individual politicians. We combine surveys conducted with 142 Belgian representatives with data on politicians’ external communication behaviour and on their appearances in television news, newspapers and news websites. The results show that media behaviour is not so much related to beliefs of media importance. We do find a significant positive relationship between strategic media behaviour and media attention suggesting that politicians who put in more effort appear more often in various news media. However, this positive relationship depends on the specific form of strategic communication and the political position of the legislator. Our study adds to the mediatization literature by showing how and when politicians are successful in obtaining media attention.


Pauline Ketelaars
Pauline Ketelaars, University of Antwerp, Antwerpen, Belgium.

Peter Van Aelst
Peter Van Aelst, University of Antwerp, Antwerpen, Belgium. Corresponding Author.
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 Online First 2020
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, Departement Politieke Wetenschappen, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgium.

Jan Beyers
Jan Beyers, Departement Politieke Wetenschappen, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgium.

Frederik Heylen
Frederik Heylen, Departement Politieke Wetenschappen, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgium.
Artikel

Access_open Nudging in perspectief

De verbreding van gedragsinzichten in beleid

Tijdschrift Beleidsonderzoek Online, juni 2020
Auteurs Pieter Raymaekers en Marleen Brans
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Theorieën en methoden uit de gedragswetenschappen betreden steeds nadrukkelijker de beleidsscene. Gedragsinzichten en nudging beloven beleid te verrijken en te versterken. Het begin van deze gedragswetenschappelijke omslag of behavioural turn laat men doorgaans samenvallen met de publicatie van het boek Nudge van Richard Thaler en Cass Sunstein in 2008. In dit artikel plaatsen we nudging in perspectief en argumenteren we dat het concept zowel een zegen als een vloek betekent, en zowel een katalysator als een rem is voor de bredere toepassing en verankering van gedragsinzichten in beleid. Ondanks het aantrekkelijke narratief botst nudging op functionele limieten en ethische bezwaren. Om de gedragswetenschappelijke, experimentele en evidence-based beleidsbeloften alsnog in te lossen, zien we een strategie van steeds verdere verbreding. Het programma van de Behavioural Insights-beweging op basis van vijf pijlers leek in eerste instantie een oplossing te bieden, maar kampt door een eendimensionale interpretatie met interne spanningen. De nog bredere en ambitieuzere Behavioural Public Policy-agenda biedt nieuwe perspectieven, maar moet op functioneel en ethisch vlak nog verder onderbouwd worden.


Pieter Raymaekers
Pieter Raymaekers is onderzoeker en vormingscoördinator bij het KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid. Zijn onderzoek focust op de toepassing van gedragsinzichten en nudging in beleid.

Marleen Brans
Marleen Brans is gewoon hoogleraar aan het KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid en schatbewaarder van de International Public Policy Association. Ze verricht voornamelijk onderzoek over de productie en consumptie van beleidsadvies.
Artikel

Naoorlogs universalisme in het huidige socialezekerheidsdebat

Tijdschrift Beleid en Maatschappij, Aflevering 2 2020
Trefwoorden Social security system, welfare state, Universalism, public advisory agencies, working poor
Auteurs Dr. Barbara Brink en Prof. dr. Gijsbert Vonk
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The Western European social security systems are founded on the need to offer universal social protection, as was for example advocated in the Beveridge report of 1942. The universalistic endeavour has led to the development of the all-embracing welfare states of today, but already for many decades dissatisfaction with the direction of the welfare state has led to a diversion of the universalistic pretention. In the current debate, universalism seems to be on the rise again. The Dutch think tanks CPB, WRR and SCP increasingly pay attention to the divide that is becoming manifest between those with better chances in the society and who are left behind. The think tanks have all formulated policy options in order to address this divide by offering better social security protection for excluded groups. In this article we discuss whether the options presented fall back upon the post-war notion of universality.


Dr. Barbara Brink
Dr. Barbara Brink is postdoc onderzoeker socialezekerheidsbeleid bij de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Prof. dr. Gijsbert Vonk
Prof. dr. Gijsbert Vonk is hoogleraar socialezekerheidsrecht aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
Thema-artikel

Het klimaat en het subject

Waarom Foucault een bestuurskundige klassieker is

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden climate change, climate policy, power, Foucault, governmentality
Auteurs Dr. Shivant Jhagroe
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This paper discusses how Michel Foucault’s governmentality approach contributes to our understanding of the climate crisis and climate policy. After adopting a governmentality approach to the domain of climate change, the paper highlights how this approach contrasts with dominant conceptions of governance in Public Administration. Finally, the paper argues that Foucault is an innovative and important thinker and should be considered a classic for critical governance researchers.


Dr. Shivant Jhagroe
Dr. S. S. Jhagroe is als universitair docent verbonden aan het Instituut Bestuurskunde, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Universiteit Leiden.
Vrij artikel

20 jaar Verantwoordingsdag: Inzicht voor Kamercommissies

Hoe inhoudsanalyse inzicht geeft in prestatiegegevensgebruik door Kamerleden

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden performance information, accountability, Parliament, annual reports, Performance-based Budgeting
Auteurs Dr. Sjoerd Keulen
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The 20th Accountability Day of the Netherlands House of Representatives is a fitting occasion to investigate whether Dutch Members of Parliament use performance information (PI). Performance information used by managers and politicians is a basic assumption for managing and guiding Performance-based Budgeting. Ironically, based on a literature review on performance use, we know that politicians and especially parliamentarians do not use performance information for decision making or scrutiny. This is specifically so when PI reports are long. Using the framework of accountability of Bovens (2007) and using content analysis of the questions, motions and debates of the Standing Committees on the annual reports, this article shows that MPs use performance information in all phases (informing, debating, sanctions). Contradicting earlier research on parliamentarians, we found that they use annual reports and reports of the Court of Audit as their main sources in the debates. This article shows that the use of PI in parliament is steadily rising. The growing importance of performance information for accountability is further illustrated by the strengthening of the accountability forum.


Dr. Sjoerd Keulen
Dr. S.J. Keulen is onderzoeker bij de Algemene Rekenkamer en universitair docent Bestuurskunde aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.
Thema-artikel

Een kritisch-pragmatische bestuurskunde

Oxymoron of gelukkig huwelijk?

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden critical pragmatism, public administration, energy justice, governance arrangements, regional energy strategies
Auteurs Dr. Tamara Metze
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    A pragmatic criticaster or a critical pragmatist is considered a schizophrenic in daily life: it seems impossible to be solution oriented and critical at the same time. You are either an optimist or a pessimist. This schism also seems to run between public administration and political scientists. Public administration is focused on (positive) problem solving, whereas political scientists – especially in a tradition of critical theory – examine the exertion of power. This essay proposes a combination of the two extremes: a critical-pragmatist approach for public administration.
    In this approach, critical political theory goes hand in hand with pragmatist reconstruction and design. This design is impossible without normative and procedural principles, for example ideas about sustainability, justice and democracy. This is illustrated with an example for designing just governance arrangements in the Dutch regional energy strategies. The article shows that public administration that is relevant, reflective and democratic builds on a critical-pragmatist approach.


Dr. Tamara Metze
Dr. T. Metze is universitair hoofddocent Bestuur en beleid aan de universiteit van Wageningen.
Thema-artikel

Kritisch bestuurskundig onderwijs

Een pleidooi voor productieve subversiviteit

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden Public Administration, critical theory, education, subversive
Auteurs Dr. Mark van Ostaijen en Dr. Shivant Jhagroe
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    By analysing the current self-presentation of educational programs, this article problematizes the dominating instrumental knowledge within Public Administration. By foregrounding ‘productive subversion’, the authors provide a perspective on more reflexive types of knowledge and methods, to re-value educational programs within Public Administration.


Dr. Mark van Ostaijen
Dr. M.A.C. van Ostaijen is universitair docent aan het Departement Bestuurskunde en Sociologie van de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Dr. Shivant Jhagroe
Dr. S. S. Jhagroe is universitair docent aan het Instituut Bestuurskunde, Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Universiteit Leiden.
Vrij artikel

Ontwerpprincipes voor betere burgerparticipatie

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden citizen participation, equality, law-making, local policy
Auteurs Dr. Menno Hurenkamp en Prof. dr. Evelien Tonkens
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Citizen participation is a regular feature of recent legislation and policymaking. However, more often than not, the goals of participation remain implicit. As a consequence, exclusion mechanisms well known from the literature keep coming back. A current example is the Dutch Environment and Planning Act, which is expected to enter into force in 2021. In this article we use this Act to identify the exclusion mechanisms at work and suggest an alternative wording.


Dr. Menno Hurenkamp
Dr. M. Hurenkamp is publicist en is als politicoloog verbonden aan de Universiteit voor Humanistiek en de Universiteit van Amsterdam.

Prof. dr. Evelien Tonkens
Prof. dr. E. Tonkens is hoogleraar Burgerschap en humanisering van de publieke sector aan de Universiteit voor Humanistiek.
Artikel

Hulp bij het vormen van lokale coalities en colleges

De lokale externe (in)formateur in Nederland

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 1 2020
Auteurs Dirk Winkelmolen MSc en Dr. Julien van Ostaaijen
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In many Dutch municipalities, a ‘local external (in)formateur’ is deployed after the municipal elections. Local (in)formateurs guide the process of coalition formation. They investigate which political parties and political groups want to work together and try to bring them closer together. They can also play a role in the board formation, such as selecting alderman candidates and allocating portfolios. External (in)formateurs come ‘from outside’. They do not have an official political or official position in the municipality where they do their work at the time of their deployment as informateur. In 2014, forty percent of the municipalities made use of such an external (information) officer. However, we still know relatively little about the work of these local external informateurs, their background and results. The authors try to fill that gap on the basis of a literature study, interviews with stakeholders and a survey among 115 local external informateurs. They also consider the added value of local external (in)formateurs for local democracy. The work of local external (in)formal formateurs can contribute to a stable and well-functioning municipal executive. Nonetheless, they tend to have a rather one-sided socio-demographic profile and the desired party political experience and involvement with the municipality can be at odds with the desired independence and objectivity.


Dirk Winkelmolen MSc
D. Winkelmolen MSc deed de master Bestuurskunde aan de Universiteit van Tilburg en is momenteel beleidsmedewerker Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling in de gemeente Roerdalen (Limburg).

Dr. Julien van Ostaaijen
Dr. J.J.C. van Ostaaijen is universitair docent aan de Tilburgse School voor Politiek en Bestuur van de Universiteit van Tilburg en voorzitter van de Rekenkamercommissie in de gemeente Zundert.
Article

Still Consociational? Belgian Democracy, 50 Years After ‘The Politics of Accommodation’

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden Belgium, consociational democracy, Lijphart, federalism, ethnolinguistic conflict
Auteurs Didier Caluwaerts en Min Reuchamps
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Despite the enduring importance of Lijphart’s work for understanding democracy in Belgium, the consociational model has come under increasing threat. Owing to deep political crises, decreasing levels of trust in elites, increasing levels of ethnic outbidding and rising demands for democratic reform, it seems as if Lijphart’s model is under siege. Even though the consociational solution proved to be very capable of transforming conflict into cooperation in Belgian politics in the past, the question we raise in this article is whether and to what extent the ‘politics of accommodation’ is still applicable to Belgian democracy. Based on an in-depth analysis of the four institutional (grand coalition, proportionality, mutual veto rights and segmental autonomy) and one cultural (public passivity) criteria, we argue that consociational democracy’s very nature and institutional set-up has largely hollowed out its potential for future conflict management.


Didier Caluwaerts
Didier Caluwaerts is professor of political science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His research deals with democratic governance and innovation in deeply divided societies. With Min Reuchamps, he has recently published “The Legitimacy of Citizen-led Deliberative Democracy: The G1000 in Belgium” (Routledge, 2018).

Min Reuchamps
Min Reuchamps is professor of political science at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain). His teaching and research interests are federalism and multi-level governance, democracy and its different dimensions, relations between language(s) and politics and in particular the role of metaphors, as well as participatory and deliberative methods.
Article

Populism as a Visual Communication Style

An Exploratory Study of Populist Image Usage of Flemish Block/Interest in Belgium (1991-2018)

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden Populism, image use, visual style, campaign, posters, visual, Flanders, populist right, Belgium
Auteurs Kevin Straetemans
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article analyses the visual communication of the Flemish populist right-wing party Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang, and investigates whether or not the party uses a specific populist communication style in its campaign posters, whether or not its visual style evolves over time and how the party distinguishes itself from other (right-wing) parties in its use of images. To do this, the image use will be compared with the CVP/CD&V and the Volksunie/N-VA. This use of images will be investigated by analysing election posters from 1991 to 2018. The analysis shows that there is indeed a ‘populist visual style’. These items consist mainly of (negative) metaphors, false dilemmas, caricatures and the use of so-called ‘agonic’ visual techniques.


Kevin Straetemans
Kevin Straetemans attained a Master’s degree in Political Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2018. He is currently pursuing an Educational Master in Social Sciences at the same university. His research interests are political parties, elections, extremism, propaganda and political communication.
Article

Deliberation Out of the Laboratory into Democracy

Quasi-Experimental Research on Deliberative Opinions in Antwerp’s Participatory Budgeting

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 1 2020
Trefwoorden Deliberative democracy, mini-publics, participatory budget, social learning, deliberative opinions
Auteurs Thibaut Renson
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The theoretical assumptions of deliberative democracy are increasingly embraced by policymakers investing in local practices, while the empirical verifications are often not on an equal footing. One such assertion concerns the stimulus of social learning among participants of civic democratic deliberation. Through the use of pre-test/post-test panel data, it is tested whether participation in mini-publics stimulates the cognitive and attitudinal indicators of social learning. The main contribution of this work lies in the choice of matching this quasi-experimental set-up with a natural design. This study explores social learning across deliberation through which local policymakers invite their citizens to participate in actual policymaking. This analysis on the District of Antwerp’s participatory budgeting demonstrates stronger social learning in real-world policymaking. These results inform a richer theory on the impacts of deliberation, as well as better use of limited resources for local (participatory) policymaking.


Thibaut Renson
Thibaut Renson is, inspired by the 2008 Obama campaign, educated as a Political Scientist (Ma EU Studies, Ghent University) and Political Philosopher (Ma Global Ethics and Human Values, King’s College London). Landed back at the Ghentian Centre for Local Politics to do empirical research. Driven by the moral importance of social learning (vs. political consumerism) in democracy, exploring the empirical instrumentality of deliberation.

    Digital transformation offers provinces both opportunities and threats. A long-held wish that social tasks (and the demand from citizens and companies) can be put at the center seems to be fulfilled. But, in addition to opportunities, the transformation also provides the necessary risks for, for example, the privacy of citizens and companies, but also due to the disruptive nature of digital transformation. This contribution looks at the digital transformation from a provincial perspective. The data vision in the making of the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant forms the basis for this essay, but what emerges applies broadly (with differences in emphasis) to several provinces. The author also gives a number of suggestions for the implementation of the transformation.


Dr. Marcel Thaens
Dr. M. Thaens is Chief Information Officer van de Provincie Noord-Brabant en lid van de Regiegroep Interprovinciale Digitale Agenda (IDA).
Thema

Access_open Principes voor goed lokaal bestuur in de digitale samenleving

Een aanzet tot een normatief kader

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 4 2019
Auteurs Prof. dr. Albert Meijer, Dr. Mirko Tobias Schäfer en Dr. Martiene Branderhorst
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article presents a normative framework for good local governance in the digital society. We build on the five principles of Frank Hendriks (laid down in an article in Urban Affairs Review in 2014): participation, effectiveness, learning ability, procedural justice and accountability. An analysis of these five principles leads to the refinement of these principles for the digital society. The overarching points are that attention is needed for the possibility of human contact, that avoiding discrimination must be central, that higher demands are made with regard to speed of action, that the principles increasingly apply to networks of organizations, and that the principles increasingly apply to the design of systems. This overview thus provides concrete tools for organizations that want to reflect with citizens and stakeholders on the extent to which they are able to achieve good local governance in the digital society.


Prof. dr. Albert Meijer
Prof. dr. A.J. Meijer is hoogleraar Publieke Innovatie aan de Universiteit Utrecht en redacteur van Bestuurswetenschappen.

Dr. Mirko Tobias Schäfer
Dr. M.T. Schäfer is universitair hoofddocent aan de Universiteit Utrecht bij het departement Media- en Cultuurwetenschappen.

Dr. Martiene Branderhorst
Dr. E.M. Branderhorst is gemeentesecretaris en algemeen directeur in de gemeente Gouda en lid van de Raad voor het Openbaar Bestuur (ROB).
Vrij artikel

Access_open Democratie ligt op straat

Dilemma’s en kansen in de interactie tussen overheid en burger

Tijdschrift Bestuurskunde, Aflevering 4 2019
Trefwoorden citizen participation, democratic legitimacy, street-level interactions, informal citizenship, contestation
Auteurs Dr. Nanke Verloo
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The goal of citizens participation increases the moments of contact between politicians, policy makers, welfare professionals and citizens. The shared responsibility for local decision making is not an easy task. Often conflicts emerge between parties with opposing needs and interests. Citizens oppose decisions or organize protest. These moments do not only challenge the goal of participation, they also jeopardize the quality of democracy. The democratic value of contentious moments, however, is often neglected. How can public professionals deal with the dilemma’s and chances that emerge during interactions that happen unexpectedly at the street-level? I answer that question by applying the agonistic approach to democracy to the action repertoire of public professionals dealing with conflict. A dramaturgical analysis of contentious interactions provides insights in how we can recognize and acknowledge contentious citizenship.


Dr. Nanke Verloo
Dr. N. Verloo is universitair docent en onderzoeker bij de afdeling Geografie, Planologie en Internationale Ontwikkelingsstudies van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.
Artikel

Over zelfredzame burgers gesproken

Hoe ambtenaren een buigzaam burgerschapsideaal vormgeven

Tijdschrift Beleid en Maatschappij, Aflevering 4 2019
Trefwoorden Interactional framing, Self reliance, Silent ideologies, Micro frames, Self referentiality
Auteurs Drs. Harrie van Rooij, Dr. Margit van Wessel en Prof. dr. Noelle Aarts
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The concept of self-reliant citizens reflects an ideology of citizenship that is multiple and flexible. It could be regarded as a ‘plastic’ word, malleable and adjustable according to convictions, needs and purposes. This study shows the importance of considering the way in which ideological views on citizenship are transferred, adjusted and enacted in an organizational context. On the basis of a case study at the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (DTCA), we contribute to knowledge on the way processes of framing interrelate on micro, meso and macro levels. We found that frames on self-reliance are enacted in a way that tensions and dilemmas are neutralized or reduced. In a dynamic context of conflicting goals and limited resources, DTCA-employees create meanings of self-reliance which legitimate practices and policies. By doing this they reproduce both organizational and social perspectives. Accounts of citizenship play an important role in this process. Self-reliant citizens are presented as active and responsible. The need of help is imagined as a normal and yet an atypical situation. This study promotes attention to the possibility that organizational systems reproduce perspectives in a way that alternative views remain unnoticed, whereas organizational choices are silently accepted as natural facts.


Drs. Harrie van Rooij
Drs. Harrie van Rooij is PhD-kandidaat (buitenpromovendus) bij het Institute for Science in Society (ISiS), Radboud University, en coördinerend adviseur corporate communicatie bij het ministerie van Financiën.

Dr. Margit van Wessel
Dr. Margit van Wessel is universitair docent, leerstoel Strategische Communicatie aan de Wageningen University & Research.

Prof. dr. Noelle Aarts
Prof. dr. Aarts is professor Socio-Ecological Interactions aan het Institute for Science in Society (ISiS), Radboud University.
Artikel

Over Rousseau, goede burgers en de participatiesamenleving

Een normatieve analyse van het nieuwe contractdenken van de Nederlandse overheid door de ogen van een klassieke contractdenker

Tijdschrift Beleid en Maatschappij, Aflevering 4 2019
Trefwoorden Beleidsevaluatie, Burgerschap, Participatiesamenleving, Rousseau, Sociaal contract
Auteurs Dr. Yvonne Kleistra
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In the Netherlands good citizenship has become a topic of increased importance on the government agenda since the murder of Pim Fortuyn. The author assesses the effectiveness of the Dutch citizenship policies within the context of the broader policy framework of the so-called participatory society (participatiesamenleving) or do-democracy (doe-democratie). The evaluative analysis consists of two parts. In the first part the changing ideas concerning good citizenship are identified as well as the normative assumptions that are at the basis of Dutch citizenship policies. In the second part, the potential of current policies, and in particular the ideas that gave rise to creating a new social contract between government and society are assessed. To this end some key aspects of the new contract thinking of the Dutch government are contrasted with the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The findings show that the current strive for tangible agreements on citizen behavior and civic duties is at odds with the main principles of classic contract theory. This leads to the conclusion that the new contractualism that is at the basis of the Dutch citizen policies should rather be seen as a threat to a stable society than as a building block for good citizenship.


Dr. Yvonne Kleistra
Dr. Yvonne Kleistra is werkzaam als universitair docent bij het Dual PhD Centre van de Universiteit Leiden.
Article

Access_open Opening the Opaque Blank Box

An Exploration into Blank and Null Votes in the 2018 Walloon Local Elections

Tijdschrift Politics of the Low Countries, Aflevering 3 2019
Trefwoorden voting, elections, blank vote, invalid vote, abstention
Auteurs Jean-Benoit Pilet, Maria Jimena Sanhuza, David Talukder e.a.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In this article, we propose an in-depth exploration of blank and null ballots in the recent 2018 local elections in Wallonia (Belgium). In the official results, both blank and null ballots are merged together and are classified as invalid votes. After obtaining the authorization to access genuine electoral ballots, we study the votes which were not considered for the composition of local councils in detail. The dataset is a representative sample of 13,243 invalidated ballots from 49 Walloon municipalities. We first describe how many of these invalidated ballots are blank and how many are null votes, as well as the nature of the nulled votes (unintended errors or intentionally spoiled ballots). Second, we dig deeper into the differences between ballots that have been intentionally invalidated by voters (blank votes and intentional null votes) and ballots non-intentionally invalidated. Our results show that most of the ballots (two-thirds) are null ballots and that among them, half are unintentional null ballots. Finally, we show that contextual (socio-demographic and political) factors explain the variations in intentional and unintentional null votes across municipalities.


Jean-Benoit Pilet
Jean-Benoit Pilet is professor of political science at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). He works on elections, political parties, and democratic reforms. He has recently co-authored Faces on the Ballot. The Personalization of Electoral Systems in Europe (OUP, 2016, with Alan Renwick) and The Politics of Party Leadership (OUP, 2016, with William Cross).

Maria Jimena Sanhuza
Maria Jimena Sanhueza is PhD Researcher in Political Science at Universite Libre de Bruxelles where she is associated to three projects studying Belgian politics. Her research focuses on citizenship, representation and democracy. Before starting her PhD, Maria Jimena worked as assistant researcher for EU HORIZON 2020 projects Pathways to Power and Solidarity in Times on Crisis, and co-authored a few publications on European democracies and representation.

David Talukder
David Talukder is PhD candidate at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). He is conducting a thesis on the reform of representative democracy, looking at disadvantaged groups’ evaluation of representative democracy and demands for procedural democratic reforms. His main research interests are related to procedural democratic reforms, participatory democracy and democratic innovations.

Jérémy Dodeigne
Jérémy Dodeigne is associate professor in political science at the Université de Namur. His research areas cover the study of political representation in multilevel systems, local politics, comparative politics and mixed methods research designs. His work appears in journals such as Party Politics, American Behavioral Scientist, Local Government Studies, Regional & Federal Studies, Government & Opposition, and Representation.

Audrey E. Brennan
Audrey E. Brennan is completing a joint doctorate in political science at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Université Laval. Her research interests are political parties, elections, and political participation. Her dissertation studies the effect of leadership change mechanisms on the long-term behaviour of political party members.
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)
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