DOI: 10.5553/RP/048647002009051001002

Res PublicaAccess_open


Volksraadplegingen: kan België wat leren van Nederland?

Keywords referendum, local referenda, local politics
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Jo Buelens, "Volksraadplegingen: kan België wat leren van Nederland?", Res Publica, 1, (2009):13-31

    Belgium did not organise a referendum on the European Constitution, like the Netherlands, even though there were some initiatives to make it legally possible. In the Netherlands there is also more experience with referenda at the local level. For decades there has been a debate about how to make it legal at the national level, but after many attempts, there is still no law that makes referenda possible at that level. The aim of this article is to compare Belgium and the Netherlands in order to identify similarities and differences. Some explanation can be found in the past, which clarifies why Belgium is reluctant to referenda and why at the local level this tool is not as often used as in the Netherlands. The main conclusion is that in spite of the referendum on the European Constitution in the Netherlands and the more frequent use of local referenda in that country, the political classes in Belgium and the Netherlands are comparable in their reluctant attitude towards this consultation of their citizens. Both countries continue to evaluate referenda as not in accordance with the system of representative democracy.

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