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Article

Parlementaire circulatie in de Belgische Kamer van volksvertegenwoordigers, 1831-2008

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 4 2008
Trefwoorden Belgium, parliament, legislative careers, legislative turnover
Auteurs Frederik Verleden en Christophe Heyneman
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article examines legislative turnover and parliamentary career length in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives since Belgian independence in 1831. Early on a stable representative elite emerged, characterized by a relatively low turnover and an average parliamentary career of nearly ten years. This pattern has changed substantially in the second half of the twentieth century. The average career length in the Chamber is nowadays historically low, due to some extent to the practice of level-hopping. The distribution of career lengths is at the same time highly asymmetrical. The literature on parliamentary careers and turnover suggests three major explanatory variables: regime change, the evolution of political parties and of the institutional framework. In the Belgian case institutional reform and regime change generated merely temporary effects. The same goes for the rise of the organised mass party at the end of the 19th century. The drop in average career length after the Second World War corresponds with a tighter hold of political parties on the selection process of parliamentary candidates.


Frederik Verleden
Frederik Verleden (1980) werkt als assistent aan het Centrum voor Politicologie van de KULeuven. Zijn voornaamste onderzoeksthema’s zijn: Belgische parlementaire geschiedenis en fractiewerking.

Christophe Heyneman
Christophe Heyneman (1979) studeerde af als licentiaat Politieke Wetenschappen aan de KULeuven en werkt momenteel als attaché in het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Parlement.

    At least four criterions/methods to measure mechanical effects of electoral systems can be distinguished: measuring disproportionality, the reduction in number of parties, the party advantages and the threshold percentages. In this manuscript we focus on the thresholds. We first concentrate on a description of legal, theoretical, and empirical thresholds as measures of mechanical effects. Further, we analyse the relationship between (the natural logarithm) of district magnitude and the empirical threshold and between the empirical threshold and the effective number of parties. As starting point we take districts in Spain, Portugal and Hungary as the level of analysis. We clearly show that there is a negative causal connection between district magnitude and the threshold percentage and between threshold percentage and the number of parties.


Patrick Vander Weyden
Doctor-assistent aan de K.U.Brussel en Vice-directeur van het Instituut voor Politieke Sociologie en Methodologie (IPSoM).
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