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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.
Article

Access_open The Child’s Contact with Grandparents

Journal Family & Law, September 2021
Keywords Family life, Best interest of the child, Contact rights, Grandchildren, Grandparents
Authors prof. M. Holdgaard
AbstractAuthor's information

    Grandparents hand down their experiences, knowledge, traditions and values to their grandchildren. As a high level of grandparental involvement may play an important role in a child’s well-being, legal protection of that family relation may be in the best interest of a given child. There is a continuing interaction between family law, cultural and social norms of what constitutes a family and how family life should be, and actual family practices and structures. Due to changing family patterns combined with an increasing number of divorces and cohabiting couples with children splitting up grandparents now play an increasing role in their grandchildren’s lives. Children become members within other types of family structures, e.g. single parents (raising half-siblings), families with yours and/or mine (and joint) children etc. When a child’s family includes a step-parent with children and step-grandparents – as well as the biological parents and grandparents – a potential risk of conflict among the family members is high. Grandparents, therefore, risk losing contact or having less contact than they had previously. At first glance, there might appear to be little reason for society to regulate the practices of grandparents as providers of non-formalized childcare or to protect the rights of children in these relationships. However, due to the changing family practices and social norms, one could argue that the legal protection of contact between grandparents and grandchildren is an important legal topic in domestic law and in academic discussions in the coming years. This article articulates these issues by framing three articles that together create a thematic map in this journal on Spanish and Catalan law, and Scandinavian law as well as the grandparents’ right to maintain contact with their grandchildren under the European Convention on Human Rights seen in a context of the best interest of the child.


prof. M. Holdgaard
Marianne Holdgaard is Professor in family and inheritance law at the School of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Aalborg
Article

Access_open Grandparents’ and grandchildren's right to contact under the European Convention on Human Rights

Journal Family & Law, September 2021
Keywords Grandparents, Grandchildren, Family life, Contact, Best interests of the child, Child's views
Authors Prof. K. Sandberg
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article explores the extent of the right to family life under Article 8 ECHR with regard to contact between grandparents and grandchildren. An analysis of decisions from the European Court of Human Rights shows that although such a right may exist, it is not strong and depends heavily on the circumstances of the specific case. The article points to what seems to be an inconsistency in the Courts approach to these cases and questions the position of the children and their views and best interests.


Prof. K. Sandberg
Kirsten Sandberg is Professor of Law at the University of Oslo Faculty of Law.

Albert Dzur
Albert Dzur is Distinguished Research Professor, Departments of Political Science and Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, USA. Contact author: awdzur@bgsu.edu.
Article

Exploring the growth and development of restorative justice in Bangladesh

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2021
Keywords restorative justice, Bangladesh, salish, village courts, INGOs
Authors Muhammad Asadullah and Brenda Morrison
AbstractAuthor's information

    Although restorative justice is a new concept in Bangladesh (BD), resolving wrongdoing outside the criminal justice system is not a new practice. Community-based mediation, known as salish, has been practised for centuries – withstanding colonisation, adaptation and distortion. Other practices, such as village courts and customary justice, are also prevalent in Bangladesh. Of these, village courts are currently the most widely practised in Bangladesh. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ Bangladesh) formally introduced restorative justice in 2013 with the support of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), NGOs, academics and government agencies. Most of the literature on community-based justice practice focuses on village courts; academic, peer-reviewed research on restorative justice in Bangladesh is scarce. This qualitative study explores the growth and development of restorative justice in Bangladesh. Using in-depth qualitative interviews and survey, the study retraces the genesis of restorative justice in Bangladesh. In recent times, GIZ Bangladesh has been key to the development of restorative justice, which was further expanded by UNDP’s Activating Village Courts project, as well as a graduate course on restorative justice at the University of Dhaka. This study also finds contentious themes raised by the key informants, specifically the role of INGOs, government and community.


Muhammad Asadullah
Muhammad Asadullah is Assistant Professor at the Department of Justice Studies, University of Regina, Canada.

Brenda Morrison
Brenda Morrison is Associate Professor at the School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Canada. Contact author: Muhammad.Asadullah@uregina.ca.

Ian D. Marder
Ian D. Marder is a Lecturer in Criminology in the Department of Law at Maynooth University, Ireland.

Meredith Rossner
Meredith Rossner is a Professor of Criminology at the Centre for Social Research and Methods at Australia National University, Australia. Contact author: Ian.Marder@mu.ie.

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

An exploration of trauma-informed practices in restorative justice: a phenomenological study

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2021
Keywords restorative justice, trauma, trauma-informed care, interpretative phenomenological analysis
Authors Claudia Christen-Schneider and Aaron Pycroft
AbstractAuthor's information

    While several studies identify trauma as a main risk factor for developing offending behaviour, the criminal justice system still largely ignores the problem, and the same seems to be true of restorative justice. This article offers a critical exploration of trauma-informed work with offenders using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The interviewees perceive a growing interest in the topic of trauma and trauma-informed care (TIC). However, they also identify several areas that seem to hinder a trauma-informed approach, not only with offenders but also with victims. One concern is the tendency to institutionalise restorative justice with an emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness and outcome orientation. The interviewees also perceive a revengeful and retributive attitude in their societies that does not condone restorative measures that seemingly favour offenders. This tendency appears even stronger in societies that have suffered from collaborative trauma and not recovered from it. Interviewees therefore advocate for raising awareness of trauma, the consequences of unhealed trauma and the need to work trauma-informed with all stakeholders, including offenders and the extended, affected community. They also appeal for increased training to be provided for practitioners in TIC and self-care as these areas seem essential to provide safe and beneficial processes for all stakeholders.


Claudia Christen-Schneider
Claudia Alexandra Christen-Schneider is president of the Swiss RJ Forum.

Aaron Pycroft
Aaron Pycroft PhD is Reader in Criminal Justice and Social Complexity at the University of Portsmouth, UK. Contact author: Claudia Alexandra Christen-Schneider at swissrjforum@gmail.com.

Claudia Mazzucato
Claudia Mazzucato is Associate Professor of Criminal Law at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy. Contact author: claudia.mazzucato@unicatt.it.
Article

Performing restorative justice: facilitator experience of delivery of the Sycamore Tree ­Programme in a forensic mental health unit

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue Online First 2021
Keywords restorative justice, sycamore tree programme, ethnography, forensic mental health, self-presentation
Authors Joel Harvey and Gerard Drennan
AbstractAuthor's information

    Restorative justice has increasingly been used across the criminal justice system. However, there is limited evidence of its use with service users within forensic mental health settings. This study conducted a focused ethnography in a medium secure unit in the UK to explore the implementation of the Sycamore Tree Programme, a specific restorative justice programme that the Prison Fellowship (PF) facilitates in prisons. This article examines the experience of PF volunteers and National Health Service (NHS) staff who came together to run the programme with the first cohort of eight service users (‘learners’). Focus groups were carried out before and after training with eight facilitators, and six interviews with facilitators were completed after the programme ended. Furthermore, detailed observations were carried over the six-week programme. It was found that the encounter was highly experiential for staff and that the group process generated significant emotion for both the learners and facilitators. A pre-requisite for containing the group’s and the facilitators’ emotions was staff taking a relational and collaborative approach to their work. The findings of this study are discussed within the theoretical framework of ‘the presentation of self in everyday life’ (Goffman, 1959) , looking through the lens of the performative self in social relations.


Joel Harvey
Joel Harvey is Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the Department of Law and Criminology, Royal Holloway University of London and Registered Clinical and Forensic Psychologist.

Gerard Drennan
Gerard Drennan is Lead Psychologist – Forensic and Offender Health Pathway, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
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

Access_open The Resilience of Democracy in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Democratic Compensators in Belgium, the Netherlands and France

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords COVID-19, crisis-management, democratic compensators, exceptionalism
Authors Tom Massart, Thijs Vos, Clara Egger e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Since January 2020, European countries have implemented a wide range of restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet governments have also implemented democratic compensators in order to offset the negative impacts of restrictions. This article aims to account for the variation of their use between Belgium, the Netherlands and France. We analyse three drivers: the strength of counterpowers, the ruling parties’ ideological leanings and political support. Building on an original data set, our results distinguish between embedded and ad hoc compensators. We find that ad hoc compensators are championed mainly by counterpowers, but also by ideology of the ruling coalitions in Belgium and the Netherlands and used strategically to maintain political support in France. Evidence on the link between embedded compensators and counterpowers is more ambiguous.


Tom Massart
Tom Massart is a PhD candidate at ULB / CEVIPOL. His research mainly focuses on European economic governance.

Thijs Vos
Thijs Vos is a political scientist and research assistant at Groningen University.

Clara Egger
Clara Egger is assistant professor in international relations at Groningen University. She is currently leading the Exceptius project on Covid19 containment policies in Europe.

Claire Dupuy
Claire Dupuy is professor of comparative politics at UCLouvain. She specializes in comparative public policy with a focus on multilevel governance, federalism and regionalization processes.

Constance Morel-Jean
Constance Morel-Jean is a master’s student at Grenoble-Alpes University. She specialises in the study of political behaviour.

Raul Magni-Berton
Raul Magni-Berton is professor of political science at Grenoble-Alpes University, PACTE research unit. His research mainly focuses on democracy, its institutions and norms.

Sébastian Roché
Sebastian Roché is CNRS Research Professor at Grenoble-Alpes University, PACTE research unit. He specializes in policing and legitimacy studies.

    Restorative justice has frequently been presented as a new criminal justice paradigm, and as something that is radically different from punishment. I will argue that this ‘oppositioning’ is problematic for two reasons: first, because some cases of restorative justice constitute de facto punishment from the perspectives of some positions on what punishment is; second, because restorative justice could reasonably be more widely adopted as a new form of de jure punishment, which could potentially increase the use of restorative justice for the benefit of victims, offenders and society at large. In connection with the latter, I want to present some preliminary thoughts on how restorative justice could be incorporated into future criminal justice systems as de jure punishment. Furthermore, I will suggest that by insisting that restorative justice is radically different from punishment, restorative justice advocates may − contrary to their intentions − play into the hands of those who want to preserve the status quo rather than developing future criminal justice systems in the direction of restorative justice.


Christian Gade
Christian B. N. Gade is an associate professor of human security and anthropology at Aarhus University and a mediator in the Danish victim-offender mediation programme (Konfliktråd). Corresponding author: gade@cas.au.dk. Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Pernille Reese, head of the Danish Victim-Offender Mediation Secretariat, for our many dialogues about restorative justice and punishment. Furthermore, I am grateful to Søren Rask Bjerre Christensen and Isabelle Sauer for their thoughtful comments on earlier drafts of this article. Last but not least, I would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback.

Lukas van den Berge
Lukas van den Berge is assistent professor of legal theory at Utrecht University.

    In its decision rendered on 28 February 2019, the Luxembourg Court of Appeal (Cour d’appel de Luxembourg) examined under which circumstances on-call duty performed at the workplace qualifies as actual working time.
    The issue raised was whether the time spent at night by an employee (i.e. the presence of an employee at the workplace) performing the work of a live-in carer was to be considered as ‘actual working time’.
    The Court expressly referred to EU case law and decided that the concept of actual working time is defined by two criteria, namely (i) whether the employee during such a period must be at the employer’s disposal, and (ii) the interference with the employee’s freedom to choose their activities.
    In view of the working hours provided for in the employment contract and in the absence of evidence proving that the employee would not have been at the employer’s home during her working hours, the Court found that the employee stayed at the employer’s home at night and at the employer’s request. It was irrelevant in this respect whether it was for convenience or not. It was further established that the employee could not leave during the night and return to her home and go about her personal business, so that the hours she worked at night were to be considered as actual working time.
    Given that the employee’s objections regarding her salary were justified (as the conditions of her remuneration violated statutory provisions), the Court decided that the dismissal was unfair.


Michel Molitor
Michel Molitor is the managing partner of MOLITOR Avocats à la Cour SARL in Luxembourg, www.molitorlegal.lu.

    On 22 May 2020, fifty-two members of the Hungarian parliament petitioned the Constitutional Court which was requested to establish the unconstitutionality of Section 6(4) of Government Decree no. 47/2020 (III. 18), its conflict with an international treaty and to annul it with retroactive effect to the date of its entry into force. According to Section 6(4) of the Decree “in a separate agreement, the employee and the employer may depart from the provisions of the Labour Code” (i.e. ‘absolute dispositivity’). The petition, among other things, alleged the violation of equal treatment and the right to rest and leisure. The Constitutional Court rejected the motion to establish the unconstitutionality of Section 6(4) and its annulment, since it was repealed on 18 June 2020. The Constitutional Court may, as a general rule, examine the unconstitutionality of the legislation in force, however it was no longer possible to examine the challenged piece of legislation in the framework of a posterior abstract norm control.


Kristof Toth
Kristof Toth is PhD student at the Karoli Gaspar University in Hungary.

    In the context of collective redundancies the term ‘establishment’ (Betrieb) must be interpreted in compliance with the Collective Redundancies Directive 98/59/EC (the ‘Directive’). The early warning mechanism of Section 45a of the Austrian Labour Market Promotion Act (Arbeitsmarktförderungsgesetz, ‘AMFG’) is only triggered if the number of the planned redundancies reaches a relevant threshold in an establishment. In the present case the stores in question were qualified as separate establishments within the meaning of Section 45a AMFG.


Andreas Tinhofer
Andreas Tinhofer is a partner at Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich.

Markus Blatnig
Markus Blatnig is an associate at Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich.

    The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court decision which granted injunctive relief to prevent the defendant from removing the plaintiff from his position as chief financial officer during his probationary period.


Orla O’Leary
Orla O’Leary is an attorney-at-law at Mason Hayes & Curran in Dublin.

Laura Ryan
Laura Ryan is a trainee solicitor at Mason Hayes & Curran in Dublin.
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