DOI: 10.5553/RP/048647001989031002167

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Naar een alternatieve Senaatsfunctie

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Frank Swaelen, "Naar een alternatieve Senaatsfunctie", Res Publica, 2, (1989):167-173

    The federalisation of the Belgian state requires a rethinking of the legislature, especially of the Senate. A 'Second Chamber' seems a necessary prerequisite for a federal system. It usually serves as a forum of representation of the different components of the federation, deliberation and national cohesion. In the future the Senate could also become closer involved into European politics. As far as the specific redrawing of the powers of the new Senate concerns, opinions differ considerably. Firstly, nearly all parties agree the Senate should have the same powers as the House of Representatives to revise the Constitution and laws on the political institutions. Secondly, there is far less unanimity on the question whether the control powers of the Senate should be as extensive as the House of Representatives. In the current state reform the Senate retains its right of investigation. Thirdly, the role that the Senate and the House of Representativesin the 'ordinary' legislative work can play has to be well defined. There are many ways to redistribute the legislative power. Whatever the principle will be, it is essential to work out a reasonable arbitration procedure between the two chambers. Fourthly, the Senate should retain its power to propose candidatures for the high courts and to act together with the House of Representatives in matters of the monarchy. Fifthly, the Senate should grow into the principal body of mediation for conflicts between the different components of the federal state. The last point of discussion in the reform of the Senate is its future composition. Guiding principles should be: a certain allegiance between the councils of regions and communities and the national Senate, an expression of political experience, no increase of the total number of representatives and a fair representation of the minorities.

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