Res Publica

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Issue 1, 1999 Expand all abstracts

Access_open De samenstelling van de regering en het Belgische belastingbeleid

Een empirisch onderzoek over de periode 1965-1995

Authors Frank Van Driessche and Astrid Heyndels

    We analyse whether Belgian (federal) tax policy over the period 1965-1995 was affected by the ideological position of the government. Both the level and composition of taxation are considered. We find no significant ideological effect on the level of the tax burden. The burden has increased systematically over most of the period, irrespective of the ideology of the incumbent. Considering individual tax categories, one can find a significant ideological influence for taxes on financial and capital transactions. Under centre-left oriented governments this tax is lowered whereas it increases under centre-right governments. A possible explanation is that centre-left governments try to stimulate households' wealth acquisition by keeping taxes on transactions of immovable properties low.

Frank Van Driessche

Astrid Heyndels

    Party cohesion is crucial in parliamentary proceedings, for the strength of parties is determined by it. However high levels of party unanimity, parliamentary party cohesion is under no circumstances to be taken for granted. It is the outcome of a persistent struggle. From a rational choice point of view, the monitoring and sanctioning of recalcitrant MPs by the parliamentary party leadership is the condition sine qua non for party cohesion. Yet, rewards and punishments do not seem the cement that holds parliamentary parties together. Preliminary findings for the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, show that ministerial appointment, committee transfers, nor party list compilation are used systematicallyto this purpose.

Sam Depauw

Access_open De 'Stille Revolutie' op straat

Betogen in Belgiƫ in de jaren '90

Authors Peter Van Aelst and Stefaan Walgrave

    All major post-Worldwar political conflicts that made up the face of Belgian polities, were accompagnied by massive protests and intensive demonstration waves. Analysis of newspapers coverage and of the gendarmerie archives confirms this for the nineties. The 1990-1997 period is marked by an increasing number of demonstrations and demonstrators. The disappearance of the ideological and cultural-linguistical actions was, on the one hand, made up for by the further rising of other issues (environmental, anti-racist, judicial, ...), and on the other hand by the near institutionalisation of very classic issues like education or employment, who both secured their place on the street. There is no ground to call the 1990's dull, on the contrary: the number of demonstrations grew steadily and, especially in Flanders, Inglehart's Silent Revolution of Postmaterialist values took to the streets. The wider acceptance of demonstrations as a means of actions, the growing political alienation, and the greater openness of the political system are presented as plausible explanations.

Peter Van Aelst

Stefaan Walgrave

    The way in which preferential votes of a candidate are spread over a large constituency is analysed for the Belgian Senate elections of 1995 and the European elections of 1994 in Belgium, which are both held in large constituencies. A formula that indicates the concentration of preferential votes controls in each sub-unit of the constituency for the number of votes, the number of votes of the candidate's party and the number of preferential votes. When this variabele is combined with a variabele indicating the total number of preferential votes of a candidate, an interesting classification of nine categories of candidates is archieved. The fact that some candidates have a weak concentration of preferential votes in a sub-unit can be explained either by the social distance between candidate and citizen or by the f act that some candidates, due to their media appearences, are welt known all over the constituency and hence that they obtain an equal share of preferential votes in each sub-unit. The place on the party list and the visibility of a candidate in the campaign have an influence upon the category under which a candidate ressorts.

Bram Wauters

Access_open De eigenheid van regio's in Europa

Een bijdrage tot het debat over regiovorming

Authors Hendrik Vos

    Since the regional level has become important in European politics, it is necessary to examine the specifity of the regions. This contribution is a first attempt to develop a model to measure 'regional specifity' for the ten criteria which are most often used to define regions in academic literature. A first application of the model (for the NUTS1-regions) makes clear the characteristics of those regions and gives an understanding of the process of regionbuilding as well. Most regions with a certain degree of political autonomy do have a specificity on more criteria than those regions without any autonomy. These empirical data give a scientific basis to the thesis that regional specificity is (consciously or unconsciously, and at least to a certain degree) constructed by regional authorities.

Hendrik Vos

    The party executive is the most important organ within a political party especially in Belgium which is charaterised as one of the strongest particracies in Western Europe. Focusing on the functioning of the party executive within the CVP (1959-1960) and the BSP (1956-1957) at a moment both parties govern with the Liberal Party as coalition partner, the attendances and interventions within the party executive show a group of approximately fives persons playing a predominant role in the decision making process. In both cases the party president is the most important and powerful person. The almost complete absence of government membres within the party executive of the CVP forms a remarkabledifference to the BSP. The relationship between party and government is quite different in both parties. In the BSP the cooperation and support between party and government is much better than within the CVP.

Peter Biondi

Access_open Het voorzitterschap van Kamer en Senaat in Belgiƫ (1918-1974)

Van parlementaire autonomie naar partijdige afhankelijkheid

Authors Emmanuel Gerard

    This article analyses the election of the Speakers of both houses of the Belgian parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate, in the period 1918-1974. According to the Belgian constitution, the election of the Speaker is a competence of each house. As can be expected in a system of parliamentary government, the Speakers belong to the government majority, as they did already before 1914. But with the disappearance of a homogeneous majority and the need for cabinet coalitions after 1918 - result of the proportional representation - someeffects which tended to erode parliamentary autonomy more substantially occurred. At several occasions the election of the Speakers was postponed until the result of cabinet formation was known. In addition, the coalition parties had to make an agreement for the partition of the two Speakers' positions. The coalition practice also affected procedure. Since agreements were less easily implemented in a secret ballot, the provisions of the parliamentary statute were put aside for an election by acclamation to strengthen party discipline. In this context a further shift in the election process occurs: from the parliamentary groups to the party leadership. Eventually, the appointment of the Speakers becamepart of the cabinet formation itself. This practice appears to be firmly established in the 1970' and has been criticized severely. It can be considered one aspect of the decline of parliaments in this period.

Emmanuel Gerard