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Tijdschrift Res Publica x Jaar 1980 x

    If a comparison is made between the constitutional principles of 1831 with regard to the working of the parliamentary system and presentday political practice, then it appears that there has been an evolution in which the role of the parties is fundamental. Until about 1850 virtually no party-system existed in Belgium. The monarchy supported by the conservative forces of the nobility, the church and the landowners controlled the system. In the second half of the century there was a simultaneous increase in the influence of parliament and the breakthrough of economic and political liberalism without the parties yet being able to impose the rules. Such rule making did not happen until around the turn of the century when the civil parliament became democratic and the big parties became integrated within it. From then on control over parliament and executive decision-taking came about through the party-structures. The period of crisis preceding the second world war obviously weakened this trend considerably; after 1945 it re-emerged even more strongly.

Els Witte
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