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Article

Opposition in Times of COVID-19 – To Support or Not to Support?

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords minority government, rally-around-the-flag, COVID-19, mainstream parties, challenger parties, opposition, party goals
Authors Britt Vande Walle, Wouter Wolfs and Steven Van Hecke
AbstractAuthor's information

    COVID-19 has hit many countries all over the world, and its impact on (party) politics has been undeniable. This crisis situation functions as an opportunity structure incentivising opposition forces to support the government. Not much is known about what drives opposition parties to (not) support the government in crisis situations. This article integrates the literature on rally-around-the-flag, political opportunity structures, party types and party goals. More specifically, we focus on the behaviour of opposition parties towards the government’s crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We analyse whether and how the party type influences the position of the party vis-à-vis the governmental coalition, focusing on the case of Belgium. We categorise the seven opposition parties in Belgium as challenger or mainstream parties and explain their behaviour on the basis of policy-, office- or vote-seeking motives. Our analysis is based on party voting behaviour, elite interviews and an analysis of the main plenary debates.


Britt Vande Walle
Britt Vande Walle is PhD Researcher at the KU Leuven Public Governance Instituted, funded by a FWO fellowship ‘Fundamental Research’. Her research focuses on comparative politics, political parties, and political party think tanks. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9594-9897.

Wouter Wolfs
Wouter Wolfs is Senior Researcher at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute. His research interests include the European Union, political finance, legislative studies and political parties. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6214-5972.

Steven Van Hecke
Steven Van Hecke is Associate Professor in Comparative and EU Politics at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute. His research focuses on Europarties, EU institutions and European integration history. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0215-5463.

Stephan Parmentier
Stephan Parmentier is a Professor of Sociology of Law, Crime and Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, KU Leuven, Belgium. Contact author: stephan.parmentier@kuleuven.be.
Article

Risk, restorative justice and the Crown

a study of the prosecutor and institutionalisation in Canada

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2021
Keywords restorative justice, institutionalisation, risk, prosecutor, Canada
Authors Brendyn Johnson
AbstractAuthor's information

    In Canada, restorative justice programmes have long been institutionalised in the criminal justice system. In Ontario, specifically, their use in criminal prosecutions is subject to the approval of Crown attorneys (prosecutors) who are motivated in part by risk logics and risk management. Such reliance on state support has been criticised for the ways in which it might subvert the goals of restorative justice. However, neither the functioning of these programmes nor those who refer cases to them have been subject to much empirical study in Canada. Thus, this study asks whether Crown attorneys’ concerns for risk and its management impact their decision to refer cases to restorative justice programmes and with what consequences. Through in-depth interviews with prosecutors in Ontario, I demonstrate how they predicate the use of restorative justice on its ability to reduce the risk of recidivism to the detriment of victims’ needs. The findings suggest that restorative justice becomes a tool for risk management when prosecutors are responsible for case referrals. They also suggest that Crown attorneys bear some responsibility for the dangers of institutionalisation. This work thus contributes to a greater understanding of the functioning of institutionalised restorative justice in Canada.


Brendyn Johnson
Brendyn Johnson is a PhD candidate at the School of Criminology at the University of Montreal, Canada. Contact author: brendyn.johnson@umontreal.ca. Acknowledgement: This research is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I am grateful for the support of Véronique Strimelle and Françoise Vanhamme for their guidance in the conducting of this research as well as Marianne Quirouette for her thoughtful comments in the writing of this article.

Vidar Halvorsen
Vidar Halvorsen is a professor at the University of Oslo, Norway. Contact author: vidar.halvorsen@jus.uio.no.
Article

Performing the COVID-19 Crisis in Flemish Populist Radical-Right Discourse

A Case Study of Vlaams Belang’s Coronablunderboek

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords populism, COVID-19, crisis, discourse
Authors Jens Meijen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In June 2020, the Flemish populist radical right party Vlaams Belang (VB) published the Corona Blunder Book (CBB; Coronablunderboek in Dutch), detailing the government’s mistakes in handling the COVID-19 crisis. Populist parties can ‘perform’ crisis by emphasising the mistakes made by opponents (Moffitt, 2015) and may use a specifically populist discursive style, consisting largely of aggressive and sarcastic language (Brubaker, 2017). This paper takes the CBB as a case study in the populist performance of crisis and the populist style, finding that the book is, first, a clear example of populist ‘everyman’ stylistics and the performance of crisis, and, second, that VB uses the book to shift the COVID-19 crisis from a public health crisis to a crisis of governance, seeking to blame Belgium’s federal structure for the government’s alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and hence arguing for Flemish independence, one of the party’s main agenda points.


Jens Meijen
Jens Meijen is a PhD candidate at Leuven International and European Studies (LINES) at KU Leuven. His research focuses on nationalism, populism, and diplomacy.
Article

The Praise for a ‘Caretaker’ Leader

Gendered Press Coverage of Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès in a COVID-19 Context

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords political leadership, crisis, care, Belgium, gendered media coverage
Authors Clémence Deswert
AbstractAuthor's information

    Studies on media coverage of women politicians have underlined how the media contribute to the association of the figure of the political leader with masculinity. Yet, the social construction of leadership seems to evolve towards a more ‘femininity-inclusive’ definition. Research on the ‘glass cliff’ phenomenon suggests that stereotypical feminine attributes might be expected from political leaders in a time of crisis. We investigated the gendered construction of political leadership in the press in a COVID-19 context through the case of former Belgian Prime minister Sophie Wilmès. In line with the ‘think crisis-think female’ association, our discourse analysis shows an appreciation of traditionally feminine traits, and particularly care-related qualities, in the evaluation of what a ‘good’ leader should be in pandemic times, although some characteristics traditionally associated with masculinity are still considered valuable assets in the journalistic portrayal of Wilmès’ leadership.


Clémence Deswert
Clémence Deswert is a PhD candidate at the Political Science Department of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Her research interests include political communication and political representation of women. Declaration of interests: I confirm that this article was not submitted to or publicised in another journal. No conflict of interest exists.
PhD Review

Pragmatic Citizens – A Bottom-Up Perspective on Participatory Politics

PhD by Hannah Werner (KU Leuven and Universiteit van Amsterdam), supervisors: Sofie Marien, Wouter van der Brug & Marc Hooghe

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Authors Anna Kern
Author's information

Anna Kern
Anna Kern is assistant professor at the Department of Political Science at Ghent University, Belgium.
Article

Access_open An Actor Approach to Mediatization

Linking Politicians’ Media Perceptions, Communication Behaviour and Appearances in the News

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2021
Keywords mediatization, politicians, news media, media perceptions, news management
Authors Pauline Ketelaars and Peter Van Aelst
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the light of the broader debate on the mediatization of politics, this study wants to better understand how the media perceptions and media behaviour of politicians are related to their appearances in the news. We opt for an innovative actor-centred approach to actually measure the views and actions of individual politicians. We combine surveys conducted with 142 Belgian representatives with data on politicians’ external communication behaviour and on their appearances in television news, newspapers and news websites. The results show that media behaviour is not so much related to beliefs of media importance. We do find a significant positive relationship between strategic media behaviour and media attention suggesting that politicians who put in more effort appear more often in various news media. However, this positive relationship depends on the specific form of strategic communication and the political position of the legislator. Our study adds to the mediatization literature by showing how and when politicians are successful in obtaining media attention.


Pauline Ketelaars
Pauline Ketelaars was a postdoctoral researcher of the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO). Her main research interests are political communication and social movements.

Peter Van Aelst
Peter Van Aelst is a research professor at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp and a founding member of the research group ‘Media, Movements and Politics’ (M2P). His research focuses on political communication. Corresponding author: peter.vanaelst@uantwerpen.be.
Research Note

Caretaker Cabinets in Belgium

A New Measurement and Typology

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2021
Keywords caretaker government, Belgium, cabinets, political crisis
Authors Régis Dandoy and Lorenzo Terrière
AbstractAuthor's information

    Belgium is probably the world’s best known case of where caretaker governments reside. Yet a clear scholarly definition and measurement of this concept is missing. Based on a detailed analysis of the Belgian federal cabinets, this research note explores the main characteristics and measures the length of the various caretaker periods. We find that Belgium was governed for no less than 1,485 days by a caretaker government between 2007 and 2020, which equals more than four full calendar years. This research note also presents a novel typology of caretaker periods based on the institutional and political practice within the Belgian legislative and executive branches. This typology can be used to assess caretaker periods at other levels of government as well as in other countries in order to improve our understanding of the many ‘faces’ that a caretaker government can take on.


Régis Dandoy
Régis Dandoy is professor in political science at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador and visiting research fellow and guest lecturer at the University of Brussels, Belgium. His main research interests include comparative politics, federalism, voting behaviour, election results, electronic and internet voting and election observation.

Lorenzo Terrière
Lorenzo Terrière is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at Ghent University. His doctoral research is focused on how (regionalist) parties deal with the strategic issue of government participation.
Article

The Hallmarks of the Legislative Drafting Process in Common Law Systems:

A Comparative Study of Eswatini and Ghana

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2021
Keywords legislation, comparing drafting process, Commonwealth Africa, comparative law
Authors Nomalanga Pearl Gule
AbstractAuthor's information

    This research study is an attempt to test the comparative criteria developed by Stefanou in his work where he discusses the characteristics that defines the drafting process in the two most dominant legal systems, common and civil law. It examines the legislative drafting process in common law countries with the aim to establish if the comparative criteria identify with the process that defines the drafting of legislation in those jurisdictions. Two common law jurisdictions were selected and an in-depth comparative analysis of steps undertaken in their drafting process was done. The scope of the study is only confined to the drafting process in the common law system and the criteria that is tested are those which define the drafting process in the common law jurisdictions only.


Nomalanga Pearl Gule
Nomalanga Pearl Gule is State Counsel, Government of Eswatini, Attorney at Law (Eswatini Bar). LL.B (UNISWA), LL.M Commercial Law (UCT), LL.M Drafting Legislation, Regulations, and Policy (IALS).
Article

Parliamentary Control of Delegated Legislation

Lessons from a Comparative Study of the UK Parliament and the Korean National Assembly

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2021
Keywords statutory instruments, delegated legislation, parliamentary control, parliamentary scrutiny, Korea
Authors Mikang Chae
AbstractAuthor's information

    As the scale of administrative agencies expands and their functions become more specialized in the complex and variable administrative reality, delegated legislation has increased explosively. This article examines the need for the introduction of appropriate parliamentary controls to prevent harm caused by the flood of delegated legislation. Through comparison with the UK Parliament, this article identifies the relative position of the Korean National Assembly and presents measures to strengthen parliamentary scrutiny on delegated legislation.


Mikang Chae
Mikang Chae is a legislative researcher/legal drafter at the Korean National Assembly. She holds an LLM from the University of London (Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London, United Kingdom), an MPP from the KDI School of Public Policy and Management (Sejong, Korea) and a BA degree from Seoul National University (Seoul, Korea). The views expressed in this article are her own and do not reflect those of any organization.
Article

Unwrapping the Effectiveness Test as a Measure of Legislative Quality

A Case Study of the Tuvalu Climate Change Resilience Act 2019

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2021
Keywords effectiveness test, legislative quality, drafting process, Tuvalu Climate Change Resilience Act 2019
Authors Laingane Italeli Talia
AbstractAuthor's information


Laingane Italeli Talia
Laingane Italeli Talia is Senior Crown Counsel, Attorney General’s Office of Tuvalu
Article

Access_open Big Data Ethics: A Life Cycle Perspective

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2021
Keywords big data, big data analysis, data life cycle, ethics, AI
Authors Simon Vydra, Andrei Poama, Sarah Giest e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    The adoption of big data analysis in the legal domain is a recent but growing trend that highlights ethical concerns not just with big data analysis, as such, but also with its deployment in the legal domain. This article systematically analyses five big data use cases from the legal domain utilising a pluralistic and pragmatic mode of ethical reasoning. In each case we analyse what happens with data from its creation to its eventual archival or deletion, for which we utilise the concept of ‘data life cycle’. Despite the exploratory nature of this article and some limitations of our approach, the systematic summary we deliver depicts the five cases in detail, reinforces the idea that ethically significant issues exist across the entire big data life cycle, and facilitates understanding of how various ethical considerations interact with one another throughout the big data life cycle. Furthermore, owing to its pragmatic and pluralist nature, the approach is potentially useful for practitioners aiming to interrogate big data use cases.


Simon Vydra
Simon Vydra is a Researcher at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Andrei Poama
Andrei Poama is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Sarah Giest
Sarah Giest is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Alex Ingrams
Alex Ingrams is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Bram Klievink
Bram Klievink is Professor of Digitization and Public Policy at the Institute for Public Administration, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Brunilda Pali
Brunilda Pali is a Senior Researcher at the Leuven Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven, Belgium, and a Lecturer at the Department of Political Sciences, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Ivo Aertsen
Ivo Aertsen is Emeritus Professor of Criminology, Leuven Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven, Belgium. Contact author: Brunilda.pali@kuleuven.be.

Gijs van Maanen
Gijs van Maanen is PhD researcher at Tilburg Law School.
Article

Access_open The Influence of Strategic Culture on Legal Justifications Comparing British and German Parliamentary Debates Regarding the War against ISIS

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2021
Keywords strategic culture, international law, ISIS, parliamentary debates, interdisciplinarity
Authors Martin Hock
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents an interdisciplinary comparison of British and German legal arguments concerning the justification of the use of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It is situated in the broader framework of research on strategic culture and the use of international law as a tool for justifying state behaviour. Thus, a gap in political science research is analysed: addressing legal arguments as essentially political in their usage. The present work questions whether differing strategic cultures will lead to a different use of legal arguments. International legal theory and content analysis are combined to sort arguments into the categories of instrumentalism, formalism and natural law. To do so, a data set consisting of all speeches with regard to the fight against ISIS made in both parliaments until the end of 2018 is analysed. It is shown that Germany and the UK, despite their varying strategic cultures, rely on similar legal justifications to a surprisingly large extent.


Martin Hock
Martin Hock is Research Associate at the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.
Article

Access_open The Role of the Vienna Rules in the Interpretation of the ECHR A Normative Basis or a Source of Inspiration?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2021
Keywords European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, techniques of interpretation, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
Authors Eszter Polgári
AbstractAuthor's information

    The interpretive techniques applied by the European Court of Human Rights are instrumental in filling the vaguely formulated rights-provisions with progressive content, and their use provoked widespread criticism. The article argues that despite the scarcity of explicit references to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, all the ECtHR’s methods and doctrines of interpretation have basis in the VCLT, and the ECtHR has not developed a competing framework. The Vienna rules are flexible enough to accommodate the interpretive rules developed in the ECHR jurisprudence, although effectiveness and evolutive interpretation is favoured – due to the unique nature of Convention – over the more traditional means of interpretation, such as textualism. Applying the VCLT as a normative framework offers unique ways of reconceptualising some of the much-contested means of interpretation in order to increase the legitimacy of the ECtHR.


Eszter Polgári
Eszter Polgári, PhD, is assistant professor at the Department of Legal Studies of the Central European University in Austria.
Human Rights Practice Review

Kosovo

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Sabiha Shala
Author's information

Sabiha Shala
Prof. Assoc. Dr. at Law Faculty, University of Haxhi Zeka, Kosovo.
Human Rights Practice Review

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2020
Authors Enis Omerović and Lejla Zilić
Author's information

Enis Omerović
Dr. Enis Omerović, PhD, Assistant Professor at the Department of State and Public International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Lejla Zilić
Mr. Sc. Lejla Zilić, MA, Teaching Assistant at the Department of Criminal Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Article

Digital Equals Public

Assembly Meetings Under a Lockdown Regime

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords COVID-19 regulation, temporary legislation, sunset clauses, digitalization, digital democracy, local democracy, experimental legislation
Authors Lianne van Kalken and Evert Stamhuis
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article we examine the Dutch emergency legislation for local democracy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands, the Temporary Act for digital meetings for local/regional government tiers was enacted. The legislature introduced a system of digital debate and decision-making for municipal and provincial councils, the democratically elected assemblies at the local and regional levels. At the same time the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations set up an evaluation committee to monitor and evaluate the working of the local and provincial governments with this temporary legislation.
    This article discusses the content and application of the temporary provisions for deliberation and decision-making on a digital platform. The purpose of the legislation is to create possibilities for the elected representatives to continue their work during the lockdown. We examine the design and structure of the legislation and disclose the evaluation results so far. The arrangements aim for secure, transparent and reliable democratic practices. Early evidence pertaining to the effects of the Act show that it works effectively only up to a certain level. We critically discuss the sunset clause in the Act and plead against function creep. Moreover, the expectations now and in the future from continuous digitalization of this part of the democratic process should be modest. On the basis of our analysis of the characteristics of the legislation and the effects on the political work of the representatives, we conclude that the current form of digitalization does not provide for the interaction between representatives and their constituencies and the communities at large.


Lianne van Kalken
Lianne van Kalken is lecturer and researcher constitutional law in Erasmus School of Law. She was a member of the evaluation committee, but contributes to this article in a personal capacity. For further affiliations see http://www.linkedin.com/in/liannevankalken/.

Evert Stamhuis
Evert F. Stamhuis is chair Law & Innovation at Erasmus School of Law and senior fellow of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Digital Governance. See for other affiliations https://www.linkedin.com/in/evertstamhuis/
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