DOI: 10.5553/RP/048647001970012003311

Res PublicaAccess_open


De politieke participatie aan de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen

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Wilfried Dewachter and Edith Lismont, "De politieke participatie aan de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen", Res Publica, 3, (1970):311-338

    Municipal elections are not the only channel of participation in the municipal policy nor are they the only participation-problem. But it is nevertheless useful to make research into them because they are the unique institutionalized possibility of participation.This participation-research deals with the different aspects of the municipal elections.The first thing to note is that a number of council-members are pointed out by elections without competition. This phenomenon is not very extended: 373 out of some 2,600 municipalities, 12 % of the council members, 200,000 voters. There is no notable change of size since 1920 in this phenomenon.Compared to the legislative elections, candidatures are very stable and limited: an average of 2,3 candidates per seat. These limited candidatures also mean that in practically half of the cases municipal elections have a two-parties system, by which the electoral corps chose directly the Court of Mayor and Aldermen. But even in municipalities with more than two parties, this «direct choice of the government» is made in 75 % of the cases. In respect of these facts, participation is qualitatively much better than in the case of the parliamentary elections.Forsaking of choice is notably lower at municipal than at parliamentary elections. As to the use of preference-votes, the choice of the municipal electorate is richer than that of the national electorate not only because municipal electors more aften express their preference for individuals, but also and not in the least because, by this more frequent use of preference-votes, they have real participation in the choice of the councilmembers themselves.The possibilities of choice at municipal elections offer an original alternative: to vote beyond party-frontiers with the «mixed vote». This multi-party vote is but seldom used: by 2,5 % of the electorate.And even then those who tlus mixed way lose half of their votingcapacity. Generally seen however, the municipal elections show a more favorable participation-pattern than the legislative ones. This leads to the question if it can be imputed to the voters when something is wrong with municipal politics. Is this problem not-situated on a higher level of the participation-pyramid?

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