Res Publica

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Issue 4, 1978 Expand all abstracts

Access_open Le Sénat de Belgique

future Chambre de réflexion?

Authors Christian Daubie

    In the future Belgian State, in which «communities» and «regions» are constitutionally authorized, the composition, the mission and the competences of the second Chamber, the Senate, are called in question. The «community-agreements» of Egmont and Stuyvenberg provided that the members of the regional councils should be also members of the councils of the communities and members of a Senate (of communities and regions). His legislative roll should be limited to pass the revision of the Constitution, the bills with a special majority and to propose amendments at the bills to the Chamber of deputies. The second Chamber, in the European states, envisaged by this study: the French Senate, the Italian Senate, the German Bundesrat and the Swiss Council of States, is always more powerfull that a simple Chamber of reflection, at least on the legislative ground, in the federal states, this assembly has not immediate political control on the national Government. The future Belgian Senate, as these second Chambers, must preserve an active roll in the elaboration of the most important laws and be an assembly of beneficial confrontation between the communities and their deputies; so, the Senate will assure their effective participation to the legislàtîve function.

Christian Daubie

    The communication process between the political elites and the general public, crucial as it is in a democratie system, is suffering increasingly from an information overlaad. The best way to tackle this problem seems to be the improvement of the communication medium, i.e. ofthe political language. Ideology is the most «rational» political language available: it can carry more information about elite decision-making to a relatively modest cost. This problem-definition suggest a sequence of three critical questions. Do the decisionmakers have a political ideology? If so, is it instrumental in the actual decision-making process? If so, why does this ideological factor rarely reach the general public? The article deals with the two last questions from a format point of view. It can be shown, after the necessary conceptual clarifications and contrary to current opinion, that ideology can hold its own in the private forum of political decision-making and fades away when the elites address the public (not the loyalists) in the public forum. The private forum is dominated by the need for policy output and by the necessity of coalition-formation. The adaptation of ideology to this situation depends on its degree of articulation and on the type of coalition-formation. In general the «salience» aspect of ideology is likelyto suffer less than its «position» aspect. The public forum is dominated by the needs of recruiting support and legitimizing proposals. Generally ideology is too costly a device to be used for these purposes.

Guido Dierickx

Access_open Federaties en federalisme

Een raamwerk voor theorie en onderzoek

Authors B.J.S. Hoetjes

    From a global historical viewpoint, federal systems are the exception rather than the rule, even though examples of federalism can already be found in Greek antiquity. From the 17th century onwards there was a revival of federalism, but in the post-World War II-era of decolonization federal systems did not emerge as the most popular form of government. Still, there is considerable variation among federal systems, i.e. those political systems where governmental authority is constitutionally divided among a central «federal» government and «state» governments in such a way, that each type of government has final decision-making authority in at least a few policy fields; a federation may be either effective or formal, unitary or decentralized, symmetrical or asymmetrical. In order to explain the extent and the kind of federalism in specific cases, the formallegal structure, the socio-economic environment and the political behaviour of elites as well as citizens should be taken into account. Political behaviour should be taken as the key factor, without disregard, however, for its relationship to social factors (e.g. pluralism) and format structures (e.g. constitutions). In order to assess their relative importance, comparative research is required; Western Europe and the Third World (South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa) offer highly promising prospects for this type of research. On the research agenda of federalism, special attention should be given to topics like the informal federal arrangements in cabinet formation, policy-making and public administration, federal party polities, and the impact of public policies on the federal socio-economic environment.

B.J.S. Hoetjes

Access_open Le Conseil Economique Régional pour le Brabant (CERB)

Son róle et ses perspectives dans la future organisation institutionnelle

Authors O. Daurmont

    One of the main purposes of Terwagne's law is to associate the regions to the economic planning. Three regions: Flanders, Wallonia and Brabant are instituted and endowed with organs, the SDR (regional development society) and the CBR (regional economic council). The CERB (regional economic council for Brabant) took part to the regionalisation of the Plans. But various factors made this regionalisation insufficient. The CERB still expressed views on the used water purification, transport infrastructure, territory planning and institutional matters. Moreover, the ERB greatly developed its research mission rather than claiming activity. Meanwhile, the subsequent development of the ideas about regionalisation led to a delimitation of a central region not the same as that instituted by the economic decentralisation: the Brussels region restricted to nineteen communes. The activity of CERB makes it primarily a consultative organ of the future regional institutions. But as a preliminary, the geographical competence of the CERB and its composition must be modificated. To organize a real regionalisation, it is necessary to suppress technical impediments (deficiency in delays and information) and it is also necessary that the consultation should be complete and real.

O. Daurmont

    Separate individual's disposition to take action does certainly not constitute a sufficient condition to engage in demonstrations. Doubtlessly, equal importance is due to organisational and institutional factors in society, and the individual's position in those. Ultimately, a demonstration is the result of a struggle between organizations for going control over individuals in order to support or defend their own objectives. In the mobilization process these organizations may make use of a diversity of mechanisms and techniques to control or to influence their members, as there are: the exploitation of the affective and instrumental ties binding the individual to the organization; the access to - and the use of - the mass-media; the use of selective communication by the organizational leaders and the induction of frustration. Special attention is given to the role of the militant and the characteristics of his language in the mobilization proces

Luk Holvoet

Mark Deweerdt

    In the official statistics, the total number of nonvoters in the post-war parliamentary elections in Belgium, is considerably over-estimated. This is caused by the method of updating the lists of voters, so that many (sometimes a majority of) people who appear as nonvoters, are regular voters who died after the moment of updating, but were not droppedfrom the lists. In this article, we endeavoured to calculate the number of deceased voters, who still appear on the lists, using the monthly death-rates of the total Belgian population, abstracting the deceased persons under age and the deceased foreigners. The more realistic rates of nonvoting, calculated this way, are quite lower than the official rates. Yet, because of the introduction of a new method of updating, the problem discussed above, hardly exists any langer since the general election of 1977.

Lieven De Winter

Editor Res Publica