Res Publica

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Issue 3-4, 1976 Expand all abstracts

    The law of december 30, 1975 sanctioned the plan, established by the government to merge the larger part of the Belgian municipalities.From january 1, 1977 on, the number of communes would thereby be reduced from 2,359 to 596. Whereas in 1975 more than 81 % of the communes still counted less than 5,000 inhabitants, this percentage will in the future amount only to 18.6 %. The legislator and the government have primarily considered the strengthening of the municipal governmental capacity as a normal result of the scale effect. Since the mergers would result in a higher number of inhabitants - and necessarily also in larger areas - it was taken for granted that the necessary means would now be available to ameliorate the municipal services. Such a scale-effect can actually be noticed for the following items: the actual municipal services, the number and qualifications of the municipal personnel and the financial strength. Complementary, both legislator and government took a few measures concerning the professional situation of the municipal personnel and concerning the municipal finances. Same of these measures however don't stimulate the normal results of the scale-effect but rather tend to slow these down. Yet, reassuming, one may say that the scale-effect wilt have a positive result in strengthening the municipal governmental capacity. However, the mergers leave quite some questions unanswered concerning several important aspects of municipal governmental capacity - especially regarding the municipal autonomy and competencies, and thedemocratic organisation and functioning. Also, some important points need to be clarified as to the future position of the inter- or supramunicipal cooperation structures, which remain necessary.

Rudolf Maes

Access_open La formation du grand Tournai

Analyse de la décision

Authors Théo Verheyden

    Tournai is a town of intermediate dimensions (32,890 inhabitants) with a regional vocation; since a few years it has had to face serious budgetary problems. These are primarily due to a relative absence of resources as opposed to a constant growth of the financial burdens, actually stemming from this regional vocation. Therefore, the intention to start from the existing entity and to create a larger entity which ought to be financially viable, is quite right. In this respect, the governmental merger plan aims at reassembling Tournai - as the core of the mergers - with the neighbouring communes that actually are the town's suburbs, and with the recently created industrial areas. Moreover, merging Tournai with the rural communes serving as abuffer between Tournai and the French border, the new (enlarged) entity will directly touch the "urban community" Lille - a major pole of attraction from the economic and commercial as well as from the cultural point of view. A particular care to keep an equilibrium among rural and urban population accounts for the absorption of several communes that are rather distant and have no direct links with Tournai. Finally, there has been an underlying concern to ensure that in the new entity the christian-democratic and the socialist party would have an almost equal weight and the (federalist party) Walloon Gathering would have a chance to break through; this seems to explain the fact that (1) Antoing and its peripheral communes, having a socialist majority, have been kept out of the merging operation, (2) one has on the contrary merged several rural communes with a clear christian-democratic tendency, and (3) the government eventually decided to realize a maximum merger (30 communes; 21,373 ha) which is supposed to electorally favour the Wallon Gathering.

Théo Verheyden

    Now being one of the 10 most important urban centres, Leuven (Louvain) provides a good case to study the determinant elements that have inspired the policy of mergers of communes in Belgium in 1975. Technocracy, consultation of the municipal councils concerned, preferences of the population, the opposition in parliament have all had very little or no influence at all on the eventual decision-making.On the contrary, specific pressure groups, supervision authorities, the extent to which one tried to anticipate the 1976 local elections, and the power position of the majority parties have substantially infiuenced the merger map. Thus, these decision-making elements contain a considerable distortion - in terms of actual realization - of the official ideology behind the mergers, i.e. to make the municipal executive power more efficient.

Wilfried Dewachter

Access_open Liège, une reconduction mouvementée

Authors Jean Beaufays

    The mergers of communes have modified the political circumstances resulting from the local elections of october 10, 1976. The two parties that shared the executive power since the former local elections (october 1970) had already in february 1976 decided to renew their alliance for the next term of office (1970-'82). They lay emphasis on problems concerning public education and on economic questions. The election campaign was quite agitated in political circles but rather calm as far as the general public was concerned.However, the creation - on Walloon scale - of a new party consisting of a split-away faction of the RW (Rassemblement Wallon; Walloon Gathering) and the complete Walloon PLP (Parti pour la Liberté et leProgrès; liberal party in the continental sense of the word) have created in the enlarged Liège a political situation which is far from comprehensible for the average voter.

Jean Beaufays

Access_open A la veille des fusions: les paradoxes des comportements politiques communaux

Une enquête dans les communes de plus de 18.000 habitants en Wallonie

Authors Nicole Delruelle and André-Paul Frognier

    This article gives a first account of a survey conducted in Wallonia in May 1976, before the municipal elections. A specific survey was conducted in each town of more than 18.000 citizen. The complete sample is of ± 8000 persons. Comments are introduced on two type of questions: 1° thoseconcerning the relation of people with the municipality (sense of community, political interest, opinion concerning the environment) and 2° those concerning the electoral motivations.

Nicole Delruelle

André-Paul Frognier

Access_open Battre la campagne à Bruxelles

La propagande électorale dans les dix-neuf communes

Authors Gabriel Thoveron

    On the basis of the various means of propaganda used in the electoral campaign from the local elections in Brussels, the author tries to describe this campaign in the 19 communes of the district Brussels-Capital. The campaign is shown to be in accordance with several rules: contagion, simplification, adaptation to the needs, orchestration. It also allows to draw a robot-picture of the average candidate.

Gabriel Thoveron

Access_open Les élections communales du 10 octobre 1976

Analyse des résultats

Authors William Fraeys

    For the first time, the municipal election of 10 October 1976 was held in new units resulting from the merger of numerous boroughs («communes»). This is the reason why the political character of the poll became more outspoken. The results of the present election should be compared not only with the preceding municipal poll in 1970, but also with the result of the two parliamentary elections (1971 and 1974) which took place since then. This analyses leads us to the conclusion that in the Walloon region, «Rassemblement Wallon» suffered an important setback in comparison with 1974 for the benefit of Christian Democrats and to a lesser extentof the Socialist Party. In the Flemish region, a great stability may be noted with respect to the opinion expressed in 1974. At the utmost, a very slight Socialist loss may be observed as well as a Liberal quasi status quo and a moderate rise for the Christian Democrats. Although FDF's progress with respect to 1974 cannot be denied, its extent is not sufficient to bring this party back to its 1971 record level. To conclude one might say that should the voters have voted in a similar way to elect a Parliament, the Chambers would not be much different from what they are now, but for a loss of seats for «Rassemblement Wallon» which would benefit to the Christian Democrats in the first place and to a lesser extent to the Socialists and PDF as well.

William Fraeys

Access_open De nieuwe politieke kaart van België

Authors Luc Holvoet

    The present article draws a map of the results that the major Belgian political parties, as well as strictly local candidates have obtained in the local elections of october 10, 1976. These first elections within the newly merged municipal circonscriptions have substantially altered the nature of the lists of candidates. Henceforth, the local-scale political image shows a strong similarity with the image, seen in general elections. The two most important political formations, the CVP (Christelijke Volkspartij; Christian Democrats) in the Flemish part of the country, and the PSB (Parti Socialiste Belge; Socialist Party) in the Walloon part, each maintain the dominant position in their respective territory. In the electoral district BrusselsCapital, the PDF (Front Démocratique des Francophones; french-speaking Brussels federalist party) has strengthened its position in comparison with the former local elections of 1970. The evolution in the local electoral process shows that the partypolitical influence has become decisive in most communes, whereas before, and mainly in the many small size communes, the purely local character was preponderant. In these latest local elections, the average number of lists of candidates has increased; therefore, one may say that the mergers of communes have had a positive effect on the actual possibilities forelectoral competition.

Luc Holvoet

Access_open Objectifs des partis politiques en Wallonie

A propos des élections communales

Authors André Philipart

    As the restructuration of municipalities (local power) could bring along new local political alliances, one would have thought about the possibility of a relevant modification of the political map of Wallonie (French speaking region of Belgium) after the «elections communales» of October 10th, 1976.Some experts had even conceived that the reorganization of the local authority was a manoeuvre of the central government, made in order to neutralize a region in which the «Parti Socialiste Belge» had the majority (voices 36.8 % and 35.5 % of the deputies and senators mandates). Others thought that the national political strategy would prevail.On the contrary, the results of the election have proved, that the «Parti Socialiste Belge» has kept its predominance in Wallonie (175 lists PSB in the 262 municipalities, 87 lists «en cartel»; 58 got the majority of the votes and participation in the coalitions in more than half of the municipalities). The other political parties (PSC, PLP, etc.) have kept their position. The national strategy didn't appear neither in the program, nor in the constitution of the voting lists (445 lists for the national parties, 541 local lists). The national political «variables» (alternatives)(government versus opposition; Brussel v. the regions; center v. pheriphery; community v. community), haven't brought modifications to the local objectives for which the main reason remains either to keep the power or to make its conquest.

André Philipart

    The technical changes in the local-elections law that were recently implemented have only had a negligible effect on the electoral results. As a matter of fact they did not bring about any change in the two major evils that beset local elections in Belgium. These are indeed dominated by a particular system (Imperiali) of allocation of seats that systematically deviates from proportional representation and is heavily resented as such by a considerable part of the public opinion. The recent modifications allow a voting method (the multiple vote) that wilt - from now on and increasingly so in the future - give a possibility to particular factions that are slightly stronger within a certain party to conquer a far more than proportional share of the party seats andmight well come close to the total number of seats allocated to a certain party. It is indeed the democratic nature of the electoral system in Belgium that is at stake here.

Henri Breny

Access_open Samenvoeging van gemeenten - Fusions de communes

Authors Editor Res Publica

Editor Res Publica

Editor Res Publica

Access_open De politieke opiniepeilingen in België in 1975

Authors Mark Deweerdt

Mark Deweerdt

Access_open Kaarten bij deze aflevering

Authors Editor Publica

Editor Publica