Res Publica

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Issue 1, 1982 Expand all abstracts

    Political power in Brussels is not distributed randomly over its area. There is hardly any political power situated in districts with a very low socio-economic status ( SES), white there is an overconcentration of political power in districts with a high SES in relation to their population. The residents of very low SES districts are deprived in two ways: almost no power is situated in their districts and the office bolders who do live in them are generally among the least powerful. It is noted that the power of the Dutch-language parties is distributed over the Brussels agglomeration in another way than the French-language parties. The power of the Dutch-language parties is situated primarily in low SES districts, while French-language parties have their power mainly in districts with a high SES. The lack of political power of very low SES districts is not new. Since World War II, there has never been much power located in the zones where the part of the population that occupies the base of the production process lives. Democracy is still not able to prevent the formation of areas within the Brussels agglomeration in which the residents have a very small share in the power of the political parties.

Luc Holvoet

Access_open Essai de visualisation des attitudes des principaux partis politiques belges

Authors Henri Capron and Jean-Louis Kruseman

Henri Capron

Jean-Louis Kruseman

    Most research reveals that television mainly confirms and re-inforces the existing party-preferences. Despite these findings, public opinion and especially politicians still believe in the direct effect of television on voter-decisions. Same researchers, among whom E. Noelle-Neumann, have given empirical evidence of strong influence of television on voter attitudes hut their findings have been widely contested. In recent years the topic is approached in a different way. The role of television in election campaigns was assessed in a broader context in combination with other social factors and attention was no langer focused on the short term effect. The very high exposure to election programmes on television raises questions of motivation and use: for information, for entertainment, or as by-product of the television attachment. These different motivations imply different uses and consequently different effects, presenting a dillemma for broadcasters and politicians who have to produce programmes for all types of viewers. Many authors claim however that both broadcasters (because of ratings) and politicians (because of the increasing number of floating voters) give in to the spectacular-entertainment side: more exciting debates, more shows, more uniformization of the political message. It should be stressed however, that television being the main source of political communication inelection periods, it can also re-open the issue of participation. Reinforcement of party-preference through television viewing can have a mobilizing effect, as latent party-preference can be turned into manifest voting behaviour. Finally the rules of the publicly controlled broadcasting institutions concerning election campaigns have undoubtedly had an institutional effect; access and viewing-time are alloted according to the relative strength of political parties.

Els De Bens

    The splitting of the Belgian Socialist Party into two autonomous parties for Flanders and Wallonia in 1978 stressed the earlier observed trend to abandon the procedure of internal pre-elections for the purpose of composing the parliamentary candidate-lists. The technique of the so-called party-polls is welt respected in the French speaking socialist party (Wallonia), but almost completely abandoned in Flanders, where it has been replaced by arrondissemental congresses. Besides, members' participation in these polls, if organised, is rather low.

Jan Ceuleers

    The in 1945 established Christian Social Party (The Flemish CVP and the French speaking PSC) showed some important differences in comparison with the prewar Catholic Party. The structure of the CVP-PSC was unitary, based upon individual membership instead of the prewar federation of « estates » (standen). With this unitary structure, the founding fathers of the CVP-PSC tried to avoid the conflicts between the estates, a permanent cause of criticism and disurtity in the Catholic Partyduring the interwar period. In spite of the new organizational structure of the CVP-PSC, new methods of informal recognition of the estates were introduced for the aggregation of their claims and their representation within the party. The way this informal recognition of the estates in the CVP-PSC was solved, is briefly described in the first part of this article. Subsequent to the survey of the evolution of the political position of the estates and their relation to the CVP-PSC, the composition of the lists of candidates in the CVP-PSC for the general elections of 8 november 1981 is discussed. Special attention is paid to the balancing in number and the ranking ofcandidates from the estates. Finally, the representation of the estates in the parliamentary group of the CVP-PSC is calculated for the general elections of 1974, 1977, 1978 and 1981.

Jozef Smits

Access_open Les élections législatives du 8 novembre 1981

Analyse des résultats

Authors William Fraeys

    The general elections of november 1981 in Belgium showed the second most important change in party-vote since 1945. The non-voting is in the three regions slightly superior to the nonvoting at the 1978 elections, but considerably lower than the non-voting for the European Parliament. In contrast with the results of the public opinion polls, the number of blank and spoilt ballot papers shows a rather sharp decline compared with 1978. For the country taken as a whole, these votes totalled about 5 % less than at the time of the European election. The election trends are very much alike in the three regions of the country: a considerable loss by the Christian Democrats, a quasi status quo for the Socialists, a gain by the Liberals and the UDRT-RAD (Democratic Union for Respect of Work), a Communist loss, a very heavy defeat by the French-speaking nationalist parties contrasting with the ahead movement of the Volksunie (Flemish federalists), this being the only «reversed» trend according to the regions, and at last a significant breakthrough of the «green» lists. The parties of the outgoing coalition have been «punished» by the electorate; together they lost 10.11 % of the valid votes. The loss, however, has been suffered almost entirely by the Christian Democrats.

William Fraeys

    At the general elections, the Belgian voter can either vote for an entire party (a vote on top of the candidate-list) or vote for a candidate on that list. The general, elections of november 8th, 1981 featured a notable fall of the percentage of preferential votes by 4,46 %, although this proportion was steadily rising since 1958, by an average of 3,67 % each election year. Although the use of preferential votes is varying from one constituency to another, and from one party to another, the order of constituencies and parties, ranked by their proportion of preferential votes, did not change profoundly. The remarkable drop of the overall proportion of preferential votes is probably due to the shift from preferential votes to list-votes by the bulk of voters who fled from the christian-democratic parties to the liberals, the flemish-nationalists and the ecologists.

Lieven De Winter

Access_open L'apparentement aux élections législatives

Théorie et pratique

Authors Henri Breny

    Belgian electoral law clearly and explicitly describes a procedure (known as «connecting») by which proportional representation is refined through (voluntary) grouping of lists from different districts of the same province. However, the actual practice of provincial electoral boards diverges from legal prescriptions to the extent that about 10 % of the seats at the House of Representatives are mis-occupied, though there is absolutely nothing that could impede a strict application of the law.

Henri Breny

Access_open Les élections des conseils provinciaux

Authors Xavier Mabille

    The elections for the provincial councils of the 8th of November 1981 show the same tendencies as the parliamentary elections, held at the same time. The liberals had a general progress, the socialists kept their positions and the christian democrats were subject to severe decline. Whereas the Flemish nationalist Volksunie regained his strength of the pre-Egmont period, the French and Walloon federalist parties lost a considerable part of their electorate. This however does not represent by itself the care of the regional asymmetric electoral behaviour; it is rather the fact that in Flanders there was only one loosing party, where in the other regions more than one party had a considerable decline.

Xavier Mabille

Editor Res Publica