Res Publica

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Issue 2, 1991 Expand all abstracts

    The level of political alienation is high among higher civil servants in Belgium, at least when we compare them to their colleagues in Germany. Explanatory factors should, then, have a noticeable impact on both the intra- and the inter-country variance. Early academie and political socialization seems to matter little except for the socialisation in ideological and general culture: Belgian higher civil servants are less egalitarian and more "materialistic" and therefore, it seems, more politically alienated. Another promising factor appears to be the opportunity to participate in actual policy making: in this respect too the Belgian officials are not well served. However, the most striking factor is the degree of technocratism which breeds an attitude of disrespect for politicians. But how to explain that the Belgian higher civil servants grew up to be such technocrats?

Guido Dierickx

    Results of Belgian municipal elections of 1988 and socio-economic characteristics of municipalities are used to estimate quantitatively (by multivariate regression analysis) the relationship between municipal election outcomes and these socio-economic characteristics. A higher average income bas a negative effect on election results for the Christian-democratic party and for the socialist party and a positive effect for the liberal party. A higher proportion of citizens who depend on public assistance has a negative effect for the Christian-democrats and a positive effect for the socialist party. A higher proportion of citizens with a university degree has a negative effect on election results for the socialist party and a positive effect for the green party. A higher proportion of younger citizens has a positive effect for the Christian-democrats and the green party and a negative effect for the socialist, the liberal and the extreme right wing Flemishparty. A higher degree of urbanisation has a negative effect for the Christiandemocratsand a positive effect for the socialist, the green and the extreme rightwing Flemish party. A higher proportion of Northern-African immigrants in the population has a positive effect for the socialist and the extreme Flemish party and a negative effect for the green party. The explanatory values of the estimated equations are moderate and results have to be interpreted with caution. Closer examination of the data show that the participation at the elections by the extreme right wing Flemish party leads to a proportional decline in votes for the socialist party.

Koen Torfs

    During the eighties, the Flemish christian democratic party (CVP) has elected a new president after every legislative election. These party leaders have to fit in the political and electoral strategy for the next years. In the three cases which are examined here, several candidates were running for the party leadership, but only one was admitted to the election. This indicates that the CVP avoids any form of discord. The chairman bas to be familiar with the party and he is selected in accordance with the equilibrium between the various tendencies and social organizations ("standen") within the party. This selection takes place in a limited, informal group of influential party members, such as the most important ministers, the resigning chairman and the leaders of the "standen". The general party members are not involved in this process; they can only confirmthe choice of the party elite.

Luk Vanmaercke

Access_open "België erkent geen regeringen, enkel staten"

Het geval Cambodja 1979-1991

Authors Marc Maes

    Since 1965 Belgian has stopped recognizing governments confining itself to the recognition of states only and maintaining diplomatie relations with the recognized states through wathever government able of exercising effective controle of those states' territory. Nota single exception to this doctrine was made untill 1979. In 1979 however Belgium refused to recognize the government installed in Phnom Penh following the Vietnamese intervention. One year later it also stopped recognizing the Khmer Rouge. In the UN however Belgium went on to accept the Khmer Rouge delegation as the representatives of Cambodia, a state thus being represented by a delegation accredited by an entity that Belgium did not consider to be a government. This contradiction was maintained untill present since neither the coalition between the Khmer Rouge, Sihanouk and Son Sann (created in 1982) nor the Supreme National Council (created in 1990) were regarded by Belgium as governments. The article reconstructs the Belgium position out of the many statements and arguments the government bas put forward in the UN and the Belgian Parliament. The Belgian position is than examined in the light of international law, its own recognition doctrine and the international and domestic political context. This led to the conclusion that the legal grounds for the Belgian policy were rather weak and that its position almost completly differred from its traditional doctrine. In the Cambodian case however political considerations appeared to have prevailed Belgium chose to join the US, China and Asean and manoeuvred as to follow them in their condemnation of the Vietnamese intervention. Acting even as one of the most faithfull followers of the Asean policy towards Cambodia, Belgium enjoyed the improvement of its own relations with Asean, also in the commercial field. The continuous domestic opposition in and out of the Parliament was not able to change this policy. Even the present Minister of Foreign Alf airs who declared to be inclined to adjust the Belgian position had to hold back in order not to affect the esthablised relations.

Marc Maes

    Three decades after their political independence, Black-African republics still search for stability. One-party states and military regimes have failed, but while both systems seem to retreat, presidentialism, the third branch of Negro-African governmentality, is likely to become a permanent phenomenon within post-colonial Central-African politics. Constitutionally rooted in presidential institutions, the single executive disposes of many instruments to establish presidentialist practices. Presidentialism itself refers to such historical precedents as the rule of traditional kings, colonial governors and nationalist leaders. Its legitimacy leans on the need for comprehensible government, political stability, economic development and effective direction. Different kinds of presidentialism exist, but their classification depends on numerous criteria which are aften incompatible, and many characteristics of presidentialism can be indicated, of which the most important are patriarchy, wealth, charisma, sacralisation and historicity. Although presidentialism appears as an important aspect of the contemporary African political systems, few research has been done to explain the emergence and persistence of this phenomenon.

Sam De Smedt

Access_open Progress and its problems in the study of war

Authors Gustaaf Geeraerst

    Although the knowledge of war and international conflict has definitely increased, we do not as yet have much insight into why and how wars come about, and especially how war as a certain and comparably rare form of conflict regulation is connected to conflict behavior at lower levels of intensity as military disputes and international conflict behavior in general. Theoretical progress in the study of war demands a significant effort at the level of basic research. It is imperative to spend more energy at the rigorous deduction of testable propositions from general explanatory principles or mechanisms. For the success of such an endeavour it is essential to adopt both a dynamic and systems-theoretic perspective. This implies a vision of war as a certain and one of possible phases in the international political process, concurrently with other injuriousforms of interaction as serious disputes and low level conflict behavior, but also supportive behavior like trade and cooperation. Yet, if we are to analyze and understand the war phenomenon from this perspective, clearly more formalized approaches and techniques are imperative.

Gustaaf Geeraerst

Access_open International Political Science Association

XV World Congress - Buenos Aires August 1991

Authors Editor Res Publica

Editor Res Publica