Res Publica

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Issue 4, 1986 Expand all abstracts

Access_open Juridische mechanismen van conflictbeheersing in België

het onderwijsprobleem

Authors Filip Reyntjens

    Political and sociological research indicates that the use of consociational techniques has been a major means of ensuring peace and stability in a divided society like Belgium. This paper attempts to cast a first look at another component: what are the legal mechanisms of confiictmanagement in Belgium? This question is studied on the basis of the case of the school-confiict, which is one aspect of the ideological dividing line; this was indeed the first to be institutionalised in Belgium. The drafting of the 1831 Constitution was the first great exercise in consensus-seeking and the same approach prevailed over much of the 19th century. It was interrupted, however, during the first «School War» which was waged from 1879 to 1884. After the First World War a number of issues in the educational dispute were settled by way of package-deals, which were an attempt to replace zero-sum games by more-or-less choices. However a second School War erupted from 1950 to 1958. After the 1958 elections the balance of power was such that compromise showed necessary again: this situation led to the «School Pact» which tried to institutionalise consociational solution-seeking in this field. The Pact system was later applied in numerous other fields where mere majoritarian decision-making was discarded. White in the School issue these solutions were not as yet legalised, in later agreements they were. The paper argues that the main aim of these approaches is to avoid adjudication on these issues by third confiict-solvers, such as courts and tribunals. Instead allocation is arranged between the participants to the deal; these partners are the political parties who claim to represent the whole range of public opinion. In this way «soft law» is created: this development represents a creeping undermining of the Rule of Law.

Filip Reyntjens

    The existing models for the formation of governmental coalitions as far as Belgium is concerned do not score high in predictability. A more complex model, covering three fields, seven vectors and one strong actor among a limited number of decision-makers, fits much better. A prerequisite for a coalition is a majority within the elitist parties in parliament. Favoring coalition formation are the decision-making capabilities of the cabinet, the elitarian consensus on the basic values prominent in and for the Belgian society, the programmatic similarities and affinities of the political parties and their capacity to manipulate issues. Hampering coalition formation are the development of partisan options, the polarization of issues, and the internal dissensions within the political parties. This model stresses the combined action of strong structures and actors, paramount in Belgian society.

Wilfried Dewachter

Access_open Management Reforms in Belgian and British Governments

A comparative perspective (1982-1985)

Authors Christian De Visscher

    This comparative study of management reforms in the United Kingdom and in Belgium between 1982 and 1985, focuses on the incentives to these reforms, on the objectives pursued by the governments of both countries in undertaking them and on the results which have been already obtained. The need to reduce severely public expenditure by improving efficiency and effectiveness in government is recognized in both countries, but the governments diverse on the contents of the reforms and on the methods used to realize them. The British opted for a radical reform conducted with much political backing, white the Belgians preferred to apply a strategy of gradual improvements of the budgetary process.

Christian De Visscher

    The aim of this article is to demonstrate the discussion on neocorporatism with refering to the Belgian socio-economie concertation system. The central thesis is to understand neo-corporatism as a functional specific concertation system alongside or in function of the traditional parliamentary-democratic decision-system. The fact that this neo-corporatist socio-economic concertation system is interwoven with the parliamentary system (and especially with the particracy or compromise democracy in Belgium) stands for its strength and strategie facilities to come to a socio-economic concensus between trade unions, business organizations and the state. Specially the fact that neo-corporatism is not always very structured, and works more or less in an informal way puts our attention to the traditional formal democratic way of decision-making and the informal concertation between workers, employers and the state. This difference between formal and informal, or legally institutionalized and semi-institutionalized concertation plays a major role in the functioning of the Belgian socio-economic concertation system.

Alex Vanderstraeten

    In most referenda, only two alternatives are used («yes» and «no»). In this article, the possibility to find procedures for three and more alternatives is discussed. The Swiss voting system for the revision of the constitution is not logically correct. Most procedures used in Swiss cantons are not either. Voting systems with two rounds, with points, or based on a relative majority are not defendable too. Nevertheless, a workable and logically correct procedure for 3 alternatives exists. Using 4 of more alternatives is only possible in case of single-peakedness or some kinds of value-restrictedness. When this is not the case, systems which are logically correct, are getting too complex to be workable.

Gerrit De Geest

Access_open De la logique des passions à la vocation de l'engagement

Georges Bernanos, François Mauriac et Emmanuel Mounier face à la guerre d'Espagne

Authors Philippe Bradfer

    The thirties constituted in many respects a rich and revealing moment of the history of political commitment of the French intellectuals. Within this conjuncture, the Spanish civil war, by its religious and ideological components, assumed for them a very special importance. The public engagements of Georges Bernanos, François Mauriac and Emmanuel Mounier rather clearly illustrate the cristallization of a new vocation of commitment to which the Spanish events conferred an irresistible character. Although they participated, at different levels, to the big passionate movement which the event generated in France in July 1936, all three agreed, from 1937 on, to recognize that totalitarisms and fascisms then constituted the most dangerous agents in an ill Europe. Finally, one can say that by refusing the temptation which leads men to renunciation, fanatism or personal unexistance, their political commitment has certainly illustrated their will to regive a meaning to the human.

Philippe Bradfer