Res Publica

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Issue 4, 2001 Expand all abstracts

    The proliferation of the use of Internet has led to speculations that the interactive possibilities offered by this technology will lead to a democratisation of political communication. It is argued that citizens will enjoy more opportunities to discuss polities with other citizens and to express their opinions toward the political system. In this casestudy, we examine the political use of internet at the time of the Belgian local elections of 8 October 2000. Building on the coding scheme developed by Pippa Norris, we distinguish interactive and institutional communication through the Internet, in which we expect that interactive communication has a democratie potential, while the institutional communication shows atendency to strengthen existing power relations. The data show that during this election campaign the Internet has been used mainlyfor institutional purposes, not for interactive applications. Therefore our conclusion is that, especially in small languageareas, the democratic potential of Internet remains limited.

Marc Hooghe

Patrick Stouthuysen


Theoretical Development Illustrated by the Case of Belgium

Authors Tom Knappskog

    The theory on consociational democracies has evolved significantly in the last decades. One aim of the article is to discuss this development. Arend Lijphart's groundbreaking book from 1977 has inspired critics and lead to important theoretical amelioration. A main problem has been the lack of theoretical connections between the favourable conditions for consociational democracy and accommodative elite behaviour. This reduces the explanatory power of the traditional consociational model. To resolve this, one option is to incorporate elements of consociational theory into more actor-oriented approaches. Such a solution is the closest we came to a functioning synthesis of Lijphart and his critics, and several attempts to combine macro- and micro-level analyses are discussed in the article. The empirical case of Belgium is applied throughout the article to illustrate the theoretical elaboration.

Tom Knappskog

    This article provides a state of the art of the growing normative plea for enhanced representativeness, by which we understand a form of representation considering the sociodemographic particularities of society. We look at the Anglo-American plea for group representation and the (mainly) French debate on parity democracy. Concerned with the structural marginalisation of large numbers of citizens from the political arena, these scholars criticise the abstract concept ofcitizenship and the interpretation of the process of representation as such. The plea for enhanced representativeness faces more than one normative challenge. Dealing with these issues the scholars pleading for enhanced representativeness above all reveal that the issue for or against representation in terms of representativeness is a matter of choice on underlying normative assumptions.

Petra Meier

Vertegenwoordiging in vrouwelijk meervoud

Behartiging van vrouwenbelangen en 'vrouwelijke' vertegenwoordiging in het Vlaams Parlement, 1995-1999

Authors KAren Celis

    In this contribution we confront the results ofa research on the Flemish Parliament (1995-1999) with two hypotheses regarding the request for more wamen in parliament. First, we ask whether female MPs do defend wamen's interests. The research indicates that taking care of women's interests was indeed part of the task of female MPs. Supported by other scholars, we argue that the actual and future role of male MPs in defending women's interests deserves further empirical investigation. Second, we focus on the often-assumed difference that female MPs would make regarding their role orientation. Although there were major similarities in the role orientations of female and male MPs, a number of relative differences were found with regard to representational style, priorities and conception of the relations between majority and minority.

KAren Celis

    In comparative electora/ studies, the Belgian electoral formula is classified in different, sometimes rather conflicting, classes. This paper is primarily concerned with the question if the Belgian electoral system truely is a D'Hondt system? In the first part I argued that the D'Hondt method, as a divisor sequence, can be applied alternatively. This modified method departs from a Hare-quota in the first phase. To allocate the rest seats in the second phase, the parties' aggregated vote totals (and not rest totals) are divided by the number of seats obtained in phase one, added by 1, then 2, then 3 etc. Like all divisor methods, the highest averages are used to assign the rest seats. This alternative D'Hondt method produces exactly the same results as the classical method D'Hondt. Thus, it is also used in the Belgian two-tier-districting system. Furthermore, the Belgian electoral system can be classified as a proper D'Hondt system (in its form and results) while ignoring the primary districts.

Patrick Vander Weyden

Kritische Theorie en Globalisering

Op weg naar een beter begrip van Multi-Level Governance

Authors Wouter De Vriendt

    In this article, Multi-Level Governance (MLG) is problematized and treated as a dependent variable. It is argued that processes of globalisation shed considerable light on the development of MLG. In order to conceptualise 'globalisation', I turn myself to the field of International Political Economy, and more specifically neogramscian Critical Theory. Since Critical Theory seems to outline - above all - the distinctive political and policy aspects ofglobalisation, the approach gives way to the development of a causal link between globalisation and governance. The relevance of globalisation towards governance and MLG is further shown by elaborating on a particular level of governance: the subnational sphere of the city. I conclude that Critical Theory is indeed relevant in explaining globalisation and governance, and that its macro perspective may be used in conjunction with a more mesostyle, MLG approach.

Wouter De Vriendt