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Volksraadplegingen: kan België wat leren van Nederland?

Journal Res Publica, Issue 1 2009
Keywords referendum, local referenda, local politics
Authors Jo Buelens
AbstractAuthor's information

    Belgium did not organise a referendum on the European Constitution, like the Netherlands, even though there were some initiatives to make it legally possible. In the Netherlands there is also more experience with referenda at the local level. For decades there has been a debate about how to make it legal at the national level, but after many attempts, there is still no law that makes referenda possible at that level. The aim of this article is to compare Belgium and the Netherlands in order to identify similarities and differences. Some explanation can be found in the past, which clarifies why Belgium is reluctant to referenda and why at the local level this tool is not as often used as in the Netherlands. The main conclusion is that in spite of the referendum on the European Constitution in the Netherlands and the more frequent use of local referenda in that country, the political classes in Belgium and the Netherlands are comparable in their reluctant attitude towards this consultation of their citizens. Both countries continue to evaluate referenda as not in accordance with the system of representative democracy.

Jo Buelens
Jo Buelens (°1954) is verbonden aan de vakgroep politieke wetenschappen van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Zijn belangstelling gaat met name uit naar politieke partijen, verkiezingen en lokale politiek. Hij doceert tevens aan de Erasmus Hogeschool Brussel.

    The municipalities in the Capital Region of Brussels have the same legal statuts as the other Belgian municipalities. Yet the political reality is quite different, and requires a different approach. Three specific aspects of the Brussels municipalities are discussed. They are bilingual, which leads to very specific strategical problems. Moreover the power relations between parties fluctuate a lot in Brussels. And finally the small size of the Region leads to an incremental 'emptying' of a number of local competencies by the powerfull political executive of the Region.

Jo Buelens

Kris Deschouwer
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