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Res Publica

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Issue 4, 1977 Expand all abstracts
Article

Ter herinnering aan Voorzitter Theo Luykx

Authors H. Van Hassel

H. Van Hassel

Editor Res Publica
Article

Les groupements européens de partis politiques

Authors Paul Claeys and Nicole Loeb-Mayer
Abstract

    The prospect of European elections has begun to alter the conditions under which national poli tical parties exercise their functions. It has brought parties to negociate common platforms and to strengthen transnational organizations. How these organizations wilt be structured, what functions they wilt assume, will be determined largely by the issue of a conflict-solving process between existing national structures, by the ability of national parties to accomplish new functions in a European system, and by the demands of that system. This study presents a tentative framework of analysis for the examination of European groupings of political parties. It may help to interpret current negotiations and future actions of these organizations with reference to the criteria, structures and functions that are classically those of political parties. It suggests how new situations in the European field may be met by existing organizations or give rise to original political answers.


Paul Claeys

Nicole Loeb-Mayer
Article

Citizenship, direct elections and the European Parliament

Authors Juliet Lodge and Valentine Herman

Juliet Lodge

Valentine Herman

    The method for calculating the distribution of seats in Belgium in local elections (called the Imperiali-method) is known as a method that favours stronger lists of candidates and is prejudicial to weaker lists. An exhaustive comparison was made between the results - in terms of distribution of seats - of the local elections of 10 October, 1976 and those that would have resulted from a distribution based upon the D'Hondt-method (which is used for all other elections in Belgium). This comparison shows that the distribution of seats would differ in more than two thirds of the communes. In more than one fourth of the communes parties do not obtain any representative under the present system, whereas they would under the D'Hondt system. Local and leftist parties are primarily prejudiced by the present system, whereas the big christian-democratic party is hardly hampered by it. The court of mayor and aldermen - the commune' s executive - is elected by the local councillors, and as a consequence, the majority in the council obtains all seats in the court. At present, these courts consist of representatives of one single list in 61 % of the communes and of representatives of two or more lists (executive coalition) in 39 % of the communes. On the basis of the D'Hondt-method, existing homogeneous (i.e., one party-)courts would have to be replaced by coalitions between parties in more than 10 % of the communes.


Patrick Senaeve

    Since 1971 Belgium has been organized into two cultural communities - Flanders and W allonia - and into three regions - Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia.Bach community and each region has its own financial means and its own legislative capacity. In 1975 a strong political controversy arose concerning the limits of the powers of the region vs. those of the community: which was financially responsible for some matters - the region or the community? This conflict made the problem of the coexistence of two communities and three regions more sensitive.


Philippe Quertainmont
Article

L'expérience des sections

Authors Claude Courtoy
Abstract

    In 1974 specialized chambers were introduced in Belgium as an attempt to improve the functioning of the Parliament.Only the Senate endeavoured to put info full practice the experiment of these chambers during the 1974/75 session. The attempt, though proved ephemeral: during the following session a deep cleavage was felt even among those who were initially its fervent advocates. Today, this experiment has been completely nipped in the bud. These chambers have proved inefficient; the goal proving neither attainable nor conclusive. It would appear, therefore, that the specialized chamber is merely a void concept which does not provide for a concrete application. This, at least, is the lesson to be drawn from the «sections» of the Belgian Senate.However, in the context of a reallocation of tasks between the Senate and the House of Representatives, such specialized chambers might prove useful.


Claude Courtoy
Article

Spinoza over democratie en godsdienst

Authors B.J. De Clercq
Abstract

    As a contribution to the commemorations of Spinoza's death (1677), this article describes in a few pages the significance of Spinoza in the evolution of Western political thought. Especially in his (unachieved) Political Treatise, Spinoza attempted to elaborate a «scientific» theory of political life, i.e. a closing deductive theory based upon a «true knowledge of the causes and natural bases» of human actions and passions. In his view it can be proved with a rational necessity that democracy - defined as Spinoza defines it - is the best political regime. He strongly emphasizes that democracy and, consequently, a well organized and efficiently functioning life in common, is impossible without real freedom of opinion and speech and a political «neutralization» of religion.


B.J. De Clercq

Guido Provoost

Editor Res Publica