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Article

‘Think Like Me, and I Will Trust You’

The Effects of Policy Opinion Congruence on Citizens’ Trust in the Parliament

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2021
Keywords political representation, parliaments, opinion congruence, political trust, public opinion
Authors Awenig Marié and David Talukder
AbstractAuthor's information

    Do citizens with a lower level of political representation evaluate political actors more negatively? While the literature has documented inequalities in political representation, less attention has been given to the extent to which different levels of representation affect citizens’ levels of political trust. We aimed to fill this gap by analysing whether Belgian citizens with a lower level of policy opinion congruence with their party’s legislators have lower levels of trust in the parliament. Our results show that policy opinion congruence has a positive impact on citizens’ political attitudes. Indeed, citizens with policy preferences closer to those of their political representatives tend to have higher levels of trust in the parliament. This rela‍tionship depends on political sophistication: policy opinion congruence affects political trust for most citizens except those who consider themselves to be ‘very interested’ in politics. Citizens with a very high level of interest in politics trust the parliament regardless of policy opinion congruence with their party’s legislators.


Awenig Marié
Awenig Marié is a FNRS research fellow and a PhD candidate at the Université libre de Bruxelles. His main research interests include political inequalities, political representation, parliaments and EU politics.

David Talukder
David Talukder is a PhD candidate at the Université libre de Bruxelles. His main research interests are democratic innovations, political representation, disadvantaged groups and democratic reforms.
Article

Access_open The Determinants of Committee Membership in Belgium and the Netherlands

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2021
Keywords parliamentary committees, legislative organisation
Authors Tim Mickler
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article I analyse whether differences in formal committee structures affect how parliamentary actors organise their work within them. I compare the allocation of members to specialised committees in the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) and the Belgian Chamber of Representatives (Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers/Chambre des Représentants) to test whether committee assignments are given more serious consideration when committees are strong. Despite many similarities, both parliaments differ in their internal institutional arrangements: committees in the Chamber of Representatives are, at least formally, considerably more powerful than those in the Dutch Lower House. The article uses the congressional theories of legislative organisation as heuristic devices to deduce several rationales of the assignment process. The role of parliamentary party groups is highlighted. The results indicate the presence of stable, reoccurring patterns in both parliaments. Even in the House of Representatives, where committees present lower opportunity structures, assignments are given due consideration.


Tim Mickler
Tim Alexander Mickler is an assistant professor at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. Corresponding author: Tim Mickler at t.a.mickler@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.

Benjamin de Vet
Benjamin de Vet is a postdoctoral researcher (FWO) at research group GASPAR, Department of Political Science, Ghent University. His main research interests are parliaments and political parties. He has published on these topics in Parliamentary Affairs, Party Politics and The Journal of Legislative Studies.

Tom Louwerse
Tom Louwerse is associate professor of Political Science at Leiden University. His research focuses on legislative politics, political representation and elections. He has published in many international journals, including West European Politics, Party Politics, The Journal of Legislative Studies and Political Science Research and Methods.
Article

Still Consociational? Belgian Democracy, 50 Years After ‘The Politics of Accommodation’

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2020
Keywords Belgium, consociational democracy, Lijphart, federalism, ethnolinguistic conflict
Authors Didier Caluwaerts and Min Reuchamps
AbstractAuthor's information

    Despite the enduring importance of Lijphart’s work for understanding democracy in Belgium, the consociational model has come under increasing threat. Owing to deep political crises, decreasing levels of trust in elites, increasing levels of ethnic outbidding and rising demands for democratic reform, it seems as if Lijphart’s model is under siege. Even though the consociational solution proved to be very capable of transforming conflict into cooperation in Belgian politics in the past, the question we raise in this article is whether and to what extent the ‘politics of accommodation’ is still applicable to Belgian democracy. Based on an in-depth analysis of the four institutional (grand coalition, proportionality, mutual veto rights and segmental autonomy) and one cultural (public passivity) criteria, we argue that consociational democracy’s very nature and institutional set-up has largely hollowed out its potential for future conflict management.


Didier Caluwaerts
Didier Caluwaerts is professor of political science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His research deals with democratic governance and innovation in deeply divided societies. With Min Reuchamps, he has recently published “The Legitimacy of Citizen-led Deliberative Democracy: The G1000 in Belgium” (Routledge, 2018).

Min Reuchamps
Min Reuchamps is professor of political science at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain). His teaching and research interests are federalism and multi-level governance, democracy and its different dimensions, relations between language(s) and politics and in particular the role of metaphors, as well as participatory and deliberative methods.
Article

A View on the Future of Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in Turkey

An Invitation to Judicial Dialogue

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords basic structure doctrine, Constitutional Court of Turkey, constitutional identity, judicial dialogue, immunity amendment, unconstitutional constitutional amendments
Authors Ali Acar
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, I discuss and analyse the Turkish case concerning judicial review of constitutional amendments in light of a recent decision by the Constitutional Court of Turkey (CCT). In the said decision, the CCT rejected carrying out judicial review over a controversial constitutional amendment, which lifted MPs’ parliamentary immunity. This decision urges to consider its implications for the possible future cases. I refer to comparative constitutional law with the hope to shed more light on the Turkish example and grasp it comprehensively. In this respect, I illustrate the most crucial arguments developed by the Supreme Court of India (SCI), the Bundesverfassungsgericht (BVG), and the Conseil Constitutionnel (FCC) in their case law. Based on the comparative account, I draw some lessons for the CCT and invite it to get into a judicial dialogue with other supreme/constitutional courts with regard to the issue.


Ali Acar
Cankaya University Faculty of Law and visiting researcher at Osgoode Hall Law School. I thank Richard Albert, Vicente F. Benítez-Rojas, and Mehmet Turhan for their comments and critiques, which were insightful to develop the ideas in this article.
Article

Consensus Democracy and Bureaucracy in the Low Countries

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2019
Keywords consensus democracy, bureaucracy, governance system, Lijphart, policymaking
Authors Frits van der Meer, Caspar van den Berg, Charlotte van Dijck e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Taking Lijphart’s work on consensus democracies as our point of departure, we signal a major shortcoming in Lijphart’s focus being almost exclusively on the political hardware of the state structure, leaving little attention for the administrative and bureaucratic characteristics of governance systems. We propose to expand the Lijphart’s model which overviews structural aspects of the executive and the state with seven additional features of the bureaucratic system. We argue that these features are critical for understanding the processes of policymaking and service delivery. Next, in order to better understand the functioning of the Netherlands and Belgium as consensus democracies, we provide a short analysis of the historical context and current characteristics of the political-administrative systems in both countries.


Frits van der Meer
Frits van der Meer, Professor Institute Public Administration, Leiden University.

Caspar van den Berg
Caspar van den Berg, Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen.

Charlotte van Dijck
Charlotte van Dijck, PhD Fellow Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), KU Leuven Public Governance Institute.

Gerrit Dijkstra
Gerrit Dijkstra, Senior Lecturer, Leiden University.

Trui Steen
Trui Steen, Professor, KU Leuven Public Governance Institute.
Literature review

Consensualism, Democratic Satisfaction, Political Trust and the Winner-Loser Gap

State of the Art of Two Decades of Research

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2019
Keywords consensualism, majoritarianism, political trust, satisfaction with democracy, Lijphart
Authors Tom van der Meer and Anna Kern
AbstractAuthor's information

    Lijphart (1999) argued that citizens tend to be more satisfied with democracy in consensual democracies than in majoritarian democracies and that the gap in democratic satisfaction between the winners and the losers of elections is smaller under consensualism. Twenty years on since then, this article takes stock of the literature on consensualism and political support. We find considerable ambiguity in the theoretical arguments and empirical evidence provided in this literature. Finally, we speculate on possible reasons for this ambiguity.


Tom van der Meer
Tom van der Meer, University of Amsterdam.

Anna Kern
Anna Kern, Ghent University.
Article

Access_open Do Characteristics of Consociational Democracies Still Apply to Belgian Parties?

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2019
Keywords Belgium, political parties, party membership, political participation, political representation
Authors Emilie Van Haute and Bram Wauters
AbstractAuthor's information

    Belgium has long been described as a typical case of a consociational or consensus democracy. This article aims at identifying whether political parties in Belgium share the internal characteristics of parties in consensus democracies: passive mass memberships, the importance of purposive and material incentives for joining, and representation of a clear subculture in the social and attitudinal profiles of their members and via overlapping memberships with related organizations. We mobilize longitudinal party membership data and party member surveys conducted in three different time periods. We show that pillar parties still exercise their role of mobilization and representation of societal segments, but these segments tend to become smaller over time. New parties offer alternative options of mobilization and representation, although not always in line with the specific institutional arrangements of consociational democracy.


Emilie Van Haute
Emilie Van Haute, Cevipol, Université libre de Bruxelles.

Bram Wauters
Bram Wauters, Research Group GASPAR, Ghent University.
Article

Transformative Welfare Reform in Consensus Democracies

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2019
Keywords consensus democracy, welfare state, social investment, transformative reform, Belgium and the Netherlands
Authors Anton Hemerijck and Kees van Kersbergen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article takes up Lijphart’s claim that consensus democracy is a ‘kinder, gentler’ form of democracy than majoritarian democracy. We zoom in on contemporary welfare state change, particularly the shift towards social investment, and argue that the kinder, gentler hypothesis remains relevant. Consensus democracies stand out in regard to the extent to which their political institutions help to overcome the politically delicate intricacies of governing for the long term. We theorize the features that can help to solve the problem of temporal commitment in democracy through processual mechanisms and illustrate these with short case studies of the contrasting welfare state reform experiences in the Netherlands and Belgium.


Anton Hemerijck
Anton Hemerijck is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy.

Kees van Kersbergen
Kees van Kersbergen is Professor of Comparative Politics at the Department of Political Science of Aarhus University, Denmark.
Article

Post-Legislative Scrutiny as a Form of Executive Oversight

Tools and Practices in Europe

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2 2019
Keywords scrutiny of law enforcement, ex-post impact assessment, parliamentary oversight of the executive, post-legislative scrutiny
Authors Elena Griglio
AbstractAuthor's information

    Parliaments’ engagement in post-legislative scrutiny can be considered either as an extension of the legislative function or within the framework of the oversight of the executive. This article makes use of the latter view to assess how parliaments in Europe approach post-legislative scrutiny and to which extent this function can be regarded as a form of executive oversight. Although rules and practices of parliaments in this realm are remarkably heterogeneous, the focus on some selected parliaments (Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, and the European Parliament) reveals three different conceptual categories. In the ‘basic’ approach (passive scrutinizers), parliaments limit their role solely to the assessment of the ex-post scrutiny performed by the government and external agencies. Differently, parliaments willing to engage in a more proactive approach might choose either to act on an informal basis, establishing ad hoc research/evaluation administrative units (informal scrutinizers) or to address post-legislative scrutiny in a formal and highly institutionalized manner (formal scrutinizers). As a matter of fact, the practise of parliaments often combines characters of different categories. While in all of these approaches post-legislative scrutiny shows potential for executive oversight, only the third can potentially lead to a kind of ‘hard’ oversight.


Elena Griglio
Dr Elena Griglio is a Senior Parliamentary Official, Italian Senate and Adjunct Professor, Luiss Guido Carli University.
Article

Lobbybrieven en het regeerakkoord

Een verkennend onderzoek naar de belangenpolitiek in de kabinetsformatie

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 2018
Keywords lobby papers, coalition agreement, policy agenda, political attention
Authors Arco Timmermans
AbstractAuthor's information

    Lobbying by interest groups and the formation of governments both are established themes of empirical research, but not much is known about their linkage. This article presents an exploratory study of organizations and groups with interests seeking influence on the political agenda at the earliest stage of a governmental life cycle: its formation. From the theoretical perspective of the politics of attention, an empirical study is made of the lobby papers that government informateurs receive from business, non-profitorganizations and ngo’s, public organizations and citizens or citizen groups. By comparing the lobby agenda of these diverse organizations and groups to the coalition agreement, it is possible to draw some preliminary conclusions about whose issues and themes become visible and prominent on the governmental agenda, and whose topics obtain lower priority. This research is a basis for further analysis of the impact of lobbying on the policy agenda.


Arco Timmermans
Arco Timmermans is bijzonder hoogleraar public affairs aan de Haagse Faculteit Governance & Global Affairs van de Universiteit Leiden. Zijn onderzoek en onderwijs gaan over de dynamiek van de maatschappelijke en politieke agenda, issuemanagement, lobbycoalities en de professionalisering van public affairs als terrein van wetenschap en praktijk. Hij is mede-oprichter en leider van de Nederlandse deelname in het internationale Comparative Agendas Project. Naast onderzoek en onderwijs in reguliere academische programma’s zoals de masterspecialisatie public affairs aan de Universiteit Leiden is hij ook intensief betrokken bij cursussen voor werkende professionals op het terrein van public affairs.
Article

Als je wint, heb je vrienden

Een verkenning van de pre-electorale aantrekkelijkheid van politieke partijen aan de hand van de verspreiding van verkiezingsmemoranda van belangengroepen

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 2018
Keywords political parties, interest groups, election memoranda, rational choice, political effectiveness
Authors Tom Schamp and Nicolas Bouteca
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this paper we look at the way in which a wide range of interest groups have tried to influence political parties in Flanders. In order to test both aspects of the historic-institutional perspective and the rational choice perspective on party-group relations, we have analyzed the dissemination of in total 1569 memoranda by 616 interest groups over the six represented Flemish political parties in the 2013-2014 election year. We find that interest groups are very selective in the distribution of their memoranda to the different parties. Traditional parties seem more popular than new parties and political effectiveness seems to be the driver behind the selectivity of the large majority of the interest groups studied in this paper.


Tom Schamp
Tom Schamp is als doctoraatsstudent betrokken bij de vakgroep Politieke Wetenschappen van de UGent en lid van de Ghent Association for the Study of Parties and Representation (GASPAR). Hij publiceerde eerder over het effect van kiessystemen op de vertegenwoordiging van politieke partijen en over de relatie tussen politieke partijen en belangengroepen in Vlaanderen.

Nicolas Bouteca
Nicolas Bouteca is professor aan de vakgroep Politieke Wetenschappen van de UGent en lid van de Ghent Association for the Study of Parties and Representation (GASPAR). Hij publiceerde eerder over ideologie, politieke partijen, electorale competitie en het Belgische federalisme.
Article

Het geslacht van de kandidaat als heuristisch stemmotief

Een onderzoek naar het effect van politieke sofisticatie en electorale context op gender-based stemgedrag

Journal Res Publica, Issue 2 2017
Authors Sjifra de Leeuw
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this paper, I study gender-based voting behavior in the Belgian proportional electoral system. In particular, I investigate two possible causes for why voters experience the need to simplify their voting decision by using a gender-cue. First, in line with the findings of previous studies, I find that voters with lower levels of political sophistication who are less able to collect and process political information, are consequently more likely to use the sex of a candidate as a shortcut. However, the effect of political sophistication on gender-based voting behavior is limited. Second, based on the literature, I expect that the low information context of the second-order European elections would cause both high and low information voters to become more reliant on gendercues to simplify their voting decision and by extent would cause the effect of political sophistication on gender-based voting to diminish. Against theoretical expectations, I find that the effect of the electoral context is negligible.


Sjifra de Leeuw
Sjifra de Leeuw is masterstudente Politieke Wetenschappen, Statistiek en Sociologie aan de KU Leuven. Vanaf september 2017 is zij doctoraatsstudent politieke communicatie aan de Amsterdam School of Communication Research (Universiteit van Amsterdam).

    This paper analyses ministerial expertise of senior ministers and junior ministers (in Dutch: staatssecretarissen) who held office in the Netherlands between 1967 and 2015. Expertise is differentiated between two independent dimensions: technical knowledge with respect to the subject matter of the portfolio, and political knowledge and skills. Results indicate that both types of ministers have considerable political and technical expertise, but junior ministers have relatively and significantly more often technical expertise and senior ministers more often have political expertise. Furthermore, the complete outsider (lacking both technical and political skills) is a rather rare phenomenon in both types of ministers. Besides, although it follows from the watchdog junior minister theory that political expertise is needed to function effectively as a watchdog, there is not a significantly higher frequency of political expertise in the junior ministers when the junior minister and the senior minister are from different parties than when they are from the same party.


Astrid Elfferich
Astrid Elfferich is researchmasterstudent Political Science and Public Administration aan de Universiteit Leiden. Haar onderzoek betreft naast parlementaire geschiedenis intergenerationele rechtvaardigheid en daaraan gekoppelde politieke vraagstukken, zoals de opslag van nucleair afval en het vergrijzingsprobleem.
Article

Access_open Belgium and Democratic Constitution-Making: Prospects for the Future?

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2017
Keywords constitutional change, democracy, participation, Belgium
Authors Ronald Van Crombrugge
Abstract

    How constitutions are changed – and more importantly: how they should be changed – is the subject of ongoing debate. There seems to be a growing consensus, however, that in order for a constitution to be considered legitimate it is required that it was created through a democratic process. This growing consensus stands in sharp contrast with the Belgian experience of constitutional change as an essentially elite-led process that takes place behind closed doors. This article seeks to explore the possibilities for more democratic forms of constitutional change in Belgium. It does so by evaluating and comparing two examples of democratic constitution-making, namely the constitution-making processes In South Africa (1996) and Iceland (2012). On the basis of these two examples, several concrete suggestions will be made, which are not only relevant for the Belgian case but can be applied more broadly to other countries as well.


Ronald Van Crombrugge
Symposium

Fractionalisatie, volatiliteit en nieuwe partijen

Journal Res Publica, Issue 1 2017
Authors Stefanie Beyens, Simon Otjes and Marc van de Wardt
Author's information

Stefanie Beyens
Stefanie Beyens is als postdoc onderzoeker en universitair docent verbonden aan de Universiteit Utrecht, waar ze succesvolle publieke organisaties onderzoekt. Ze verdedigde in 2016 haar proefschrift over de overlevingskansen van nieuwe politieke partijen en publiceerde over dit onderwerp in Party Politics en West European Politics.

Simon Otjes
Simon Otjes werkt als onderzoeker bij het Documentatiecentrum Nederlandse Politieke Partijen van de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. Hij promoveerde in 2012 op een proefschrift over het effect van nieuwe partijen op bestaande partijen. Hij doet onderzoek naar politieke partijen en partijsystemen in West-Europa, met een bijzondere focus op Nederland. Hij publiceerde in European Journal of Political Research, American Journal of Political Science en Party Politics.

Marc van de Wardt
Marc van de Wardt is als assistant professor verbonden aan Tilburg University en als postdoc aan de Universiteit Gent. Hij onderzoekt het gedrag van politieke partijen (issuecompetitie, partijtoetreding en uittreding) in vergelijkend perspectief en ook politieke vertegenwoordiging op het niveau van parlementariërs. Zijn onderzoekslijn naar de toetreding en uittreding van politieke partijen in West-Europese partijsystemen wordt gefinancierd door een driejarige onderzoeksbeurs van het Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen (FWO016/PDO/198). Hij publiceerde recentelijk in tijdschriften als American Journal of Political Science, Electoral Studies, European Union Politics en Journal of Politics.
Article

The Mechanisms Used to Review Existing Legislation in the Civil Law System

Case Study – Italy

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2016
Keywords codification, consolidation, law revision, legal restatement, legislative scrutiny
Authors Enrico Albanesi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The aim of this article is to describe the mechanisms that are used in the civil law system to review existing legislation. The case study will be based on the Italian system. In the civil law system we are not familiar with the concept of law reform, in the sense used in the common law system, because there is no law reform agency in the civil law world. The mechanisms used to review the existing law in civil law systems are: codification, consolidation, repeal, law revision and legal restatement. To understand how the mechanisms used to review existing legislation work in Italy, an overview of the Italian law-making and drafting processes will be carried out here, underlying the bad impact that the Italian equal bicameralism has on the quality of legislation and also on the mechanisms to review existing legislation. After this, the article will focus on the specific tools that are used in Italy for codification and consolidation (decreti legislativi), for law revision (the so-called taglia-leggi) and for legal restatement (examining the role of the Consiglio di Stato). Particular attention will also be paid to the parliamentary scrutiny on the quality of legislation. Finally, the article will focus on the constitutional amendment process Italy carried out in 2014-2016 and that was expected to fundamentally change the Italian law-making process, superseding the equal bicameralism arrangement (a referendum on this was held on 4 December 2016, and the reform was rejected by the Italian people).


Enrico Albanesi
Lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Genoa (Italy) and Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), University of London. Co-leader of the IALS Law Reform Project.
Article

‘A touchstone of consent?’

Euroscepticisme in consensusdemocratieën

Journal Res Publica, Issue 4 2016
Keywords euroscepticism, consensus democracy, political trust, national institutions
Authors Louise Hoon
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article looks at national political institutions and euroscepticism. Over a timespan of 25 years, I compare values for majoritarian vs consensus democracy for 14 European democracies, with measures for euroscepticism at the levels of party systems, elections and public opinion. Consistent with the thesis that consensus democracy generates more system-opposition at the national level, this regime type is also more sensitive to euroscepticism. This is not the case, however, for France and the UK, two very eurosceptic majoritarian democracies. The study also shows that a context of socio-economic crisis (2008-2014) turns this relationship around, as increased conflict within society demands for more consensus at the elite level. The study essentially argues that euroscepticism still is ‘a touchstone of dissent’ for national politics. However, the extent to which national democracies generate this dissent, and especially, whether it is channelled by eurosceptic parties, depends on the dominance of consensus in the domestic institutional context.


Louise Hoon
Louise Hoon is doctoraal onderzoeker aan de Faculteit Economische en Sociale Wetenschappen van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Article

Naar een voorwaardelijk model van ongelijkheid in vertegenwoordiging

Een onderzoek naar het moderatie-effect van beleidsdomeinen op ongelijkheid in beleidscongruentie

Journal Res Publica, Issue 1 2016
Keywords Policy congruence, inequality, education, policy domains
Authors Christophe Lesschaeve
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article studies the extent to which differences or inequality in policy congruence between higher and lower educated voters are moderated by policy domains. Instead of measuring inequality across all areas of policy, this study takes a policy domain-specific approach. The analyses are based on a dataset containing voters and party positions on 50 policy statements, gathered in the run-up to the 2009 regional election in Belgium largest region, Flanders. We find, overall, only small and unsubstantial, though significant, differences, in policy congruence between higher and lower educated voters, in favor of the former. However, we find a much larger representational bias towards higher educated when we look at transportation, culture and media, immigration, taxand budgetary policy, and economic policy. At the same time, differences in policy congruence are lower as regards spatial planning. Studying inequality in policy congruence across policy domains thus hides more complex patterns of representational bias.


Christophe Lesschaeve
Christophe Lesschaeve is als doctoraatsstudent verbonden aan de faculteit sociale wetenschappen van de Universiteit Antwerpen. Zijn onderzoeksinteresse gaat uit naar beleidscongruentie en ongelijkheid in vertegenwoordiging.
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