Res Publica

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Issue 2, 1977 Expand all abstracts

Access_open Préface

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Access_open Inleiding

Koppen uit het politieke nieuws van 1976

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Editor Res Publica

    1. Cabinet made small effort to start consultations between the communities. It left the initiative to the political parties and to Flemish employers (VEV, i.e. Flemish Economic Association).2. The president of the VEV played an active role bebind the curtains. He mediated between certain Flemish and Walloon political circles. He tried to get the Volksunie (i.e. the Flemish regional party) info the cabinet. He found himself sadly out in his reckoning on the Walloon side, because he overlooked the strong socialist opposition.3. The opposition Socialist Party overcame the deadlock by publishing a plan for the definitive state-reforms. Flemish, Walloon and Brussels socialists agreed to this plan. It became the beginning of negotiations between the communities, which started on November 30.4. The negotiations are difficult, mostly because the Walloons have no unified view on state-reforms.

Jan Ceuleers

    The 1970-1971 revision of the Belgian constitution recognized the existence of three cultural communities (two main ones Flemish-, French-, and one minor German speaking) and three geographic regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels). The implementation of the constitutional provisions regarding cultural and regional autonomy led to the creation of several new subnational institutions of which the most important are the cultural and the regional Councils. Each cultural Council groups the senators and the representatives of similar linguistic group, while the regional Councils are composed of these same parliamentarians (plus municipal council members in the case of the Brussels Regional Council) in accordance with their geographic residence. These Councils may thus be seen as sub-groupings of the national Parliament. Although both are essentially advisory bodies, the cultural Councils do legislate decrees which, when enforced by the respective Ministers of Culture, have the force of law. On the other hand, the regional Councils are purely consultative assemblies, providing opinions and requesting clarifications and justifications of national decisions in the functional areas, specified by the Constitution. A ministerial committee of each region considers the Council's recommendations in enforcing national policies in the regions. The complexity of national-community-regional relations and the political discussions between the supporters of regionalization and those favoring culturalization shows the temporary nature of the present institutionalization.

Jacques Brassinne

Access_open De samenvoeging van de gemeenten

Studie van het besluitvormingsproces

Authors Rudolf Maes

    In the years 1975-1976 the Belgian government has given high priority to the restructuring of local government, resp. by the means of mergers of communes: the number of communes has decreased by that way from 2,359 to 596. In the decision-making emphasized were the initiatives taken by the Minister of the Interior as well on the domain of the elaboration of the proposals to delimitate the territory of the new communes as on the domain of the defining of the terms of execution with regard to the personnel, the finances, the transition of goods, etc. About the proposals on the delimitation of the territory the local governmentscould only give advice; they have been sanctioned by the legislative assemblees at the end of 1975 after rather difficult and heated debates.During this period an important resistance developed: on the one side from the communal milieu itself and on the other side from the opposition parties, esp. the Belgian Socialist Party not participating in the government that had made the drawing of the new map of communes according to a broad plan to its aim.Nevertheless, the decision-making also has to be seen from the fact that the opposition parties agreed with the principle of the mergers: they mainly contested the way in which the mergers were executed. The abolition of the federations of communes around the Brussels agglomeration, decided in the same context, has to be seen in the light of the typical Belgian problem of the coexistence of different linguistic groups.

Rudolf Maes

Access_open Front commun syndical et nouveau pacte social

Authors Léon-Eli Troclet

    I. Confronted with the acuteness of the socio-economic problems the two major labour organizations (i.e.: the socialist and the christiandemocratic trade union confederation) have in 1976 strengthened their «Common Trade Unions' Front» (with about two million members on a total of 2,300,000 wage- and salary earners in Belgium) in view of their negotiations with employers and with the government, to which the trade unions have submitted a common platform. The common front, that has its antecedents on the local, regional and professional level has never been and never will be of a permanent nature, some sort of organic unit. Each confederation maintains its own identity and the front is meant to be re-animated according to the circumstances. II. From the employers' side (and to some extent completely independent from the trade unions' common front) representatives of employers' organizations have «as a personal point of view» and, no doubt, as a preliminary approach, launched the idea that a new and very comprehensive «social pact» should be negotiated. The socialist trade unions clearly tend to reject this idea, since it maywell lead to a further integration in the capitalist system, whereas the christiandemocratic union seems to be rather in favour of such a pact. In the present state of affairs (end of June, 1977) the probability that it be realized is rather low indeed.

Léon-Eli Troclet

Access_open Pax medica op de helling?

Authors Yvo Nuyens

    After the sharp confiicts between the government and the medical unions in 1964 on the occasion of the health insurance reform, which introduced the «agreement system» for medical fees and repayments, a form of bargaining economy has developed in Belgian health care, with sick funds and medical unions as the major parties. This «Pax Medica» seems to be threatened by a series of financially motivated government measures aimed at reducing the medical group's professional autonomy and dominance. This article discusses the historical context, the parties involved and the development of these confiicts, pointing out the striking analogy with those of 1964, particularly as far as the unions strategy is concerned. The present state of affairs suggests not a threatening of the «Pax Medica», but rather a stabilization of the established power relationship between government, sick funds and medical unions, which will respect and continue the rules of democratic compromise.

Yvo Nuyens

    The article attempts to describe the constitution, the methods of work and the conclusions of the Commission of State for Ethical Problems in Belgium. This Commission was requested by the Government to study the problems of family-planning, of anonymity of the mother and of abortion. The Commission was composed by 25 members telling 11 doctors, 1 chemist, 1 biologist, 1 sociologist and 11 doctors in law. Two reports were presented to the Government: one signed by 13 members and one signed by 12 members. The author, who was member of the group of the 13 gives her opinion about all the activities of the Commission.

Marriette Verrycken

    This article deals with the problems of abortion as a political issue, in the form represented in the two reports of the Belgian «National Commission for Ethical Problems» (Fall 1976). Both the «translation» of the political problem into a question to be handled by an «apolitical» commission on the level of scientific expertness, and the delivery of two mutually dissenting reports, are studied as a typical stage of the development of the political decision-making process in this matter and compared with similar evolutions in the neighbour countries (W.-Germany, France, the Netherlands). From a view point of political theory the main problem is the following: how a parliamentary democracy solves such a deap-seated confiict concerning the «basic values» of ethical order of society? Elements of an answer can be gathered from a comparative analysis of the different positions and arguments in the two reports of the Ethical Commission.

Bertrand J. De Clercq

    The author discusses the position of coat in the energetic future of Belgium. The report of the «Commission des Sages» has carefully studied only the problem of the applications of nuclear energy.During the next century, the energy of all origins wilt be used. The future must not be mortgaged by putting forward solutions which bring only marginal contributions. The actual reserves of coat in Belgium and in the world are enormous. In 2000, only 2 % of these reserves wilt be consumed. There is enough coat in the world to cover the energetic needs during several centuries. The use of Belgian or imported coat to produce electricity induces to study simultaneously the development of a modern carbochemistry which will progressively replace petroleum and gas by the manufacture of substituted gas and motor fuel. Methanol is the car motor-fuel for the future. Coat underground pressurised gasification shows interesting views for the upgrading of deep seams and of those who are not exploitable because of their small thickness. A sequence based on the production of electricity from high volatile coat, previously distilled at low temperature is proposed. This sequence allows a progressive and immediate development of a carbochemical industry in Belgium without important investments.

René Cyprès

    The Tindemans report on the European union and the decision to organize direct elections for the European Parliament have been two important events in European afjairs in 1976. This article analyses the origins, developments and bearing of these two events. Although his mandate was initiated and encouraged at the highest level - that of the European heads of state - , Mr. Tindemans' attempt to propose concrete steps in order to achieve a real political union in Europe did not get through. It received a rather cold reception from several states who opposed some of his proposals on different grounds. At the Conference of The Hague, Mr. Tindemans was able to get a formal support to his ideas, but no decision was taken to implement any of them. The decision to organize direct elections for the European Parliament, which can be seen as a concrete step toward the implementation of the long awaited European union, is facing the same kind of resistance at the national level. Although the Nine have all agreed to do everything possible to organize these elections in the spring of 1978, there are still unsolved problems which are both technical and political. Moreover, even if they are taking place, it is not at all sure that they will bring about substantive changes in the role and functions of the European Parliament.

Jean-Claude Willame

Access_open De politieke opiniepeilingen in België in 1976

Authors Mark Deweerdt

Mark Deweerdt

Access_open Biblographie de l'année politique 1976

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Editor Res Publica