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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

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 Het classicistische politieke denken van Van Hogendorp

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2021
Keywords classicistisch politiek denken, constitutie, Van Hogendorp, Grondwet, politieke filosofie
Authors Alban Mik
AbstractAuthor's information

    Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp is the auctor intellectualis of the 1818 Dutch constitution. It was his sketch for a new constitution that was used as a starting point for the deliberations of its original drafting committee. Van Hogendorp justifies his constitution as a restoration of the Burgundian constitution that applied before the Dutch Republic. In recent literature Van Hogendorp’s restorational argument is presented as an invention of tradition. In this article an alternative explanation is presented, namely that it is part of a form of classicist political thought that was common during the ancien régime. Van Hogendorp describes his constitution as a moderate monarchy, in which the three principles of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy are properly balanced. And he mainly defends this mixed regime by pointing out that it is a restoration of the old Burgundian constitution of the Netherlands. This way of reasoning is, as will be shown, typically classicistic.


Alban Mik
Alban Mik is onderzoeker aan de Afdeling Metajuridica, vakgroep Rechtsfilosofie van de Universiteit Leiden.
Article

Access_open Toegang tot het recht in de rechtsstaat

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2021
Keywords rechtsstaat, toegang tot het recht, sociale dimensie, Nicholas Barber, Pierre Bourdieu
Authors Nathalie Franziska Hendrika Schnabl
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper considers access to the rule of law as a requirement for the well-functioning of the rule of law in society. In most rule of law debates, access to the rule of law is not a topic of discussion because these scholars focus themselves solely on the legalistic dimension of the rule of law. Barber was the first to mention the social dimension explicitly but without a theoretical framework. Based on the three capitals of Bourdieu, this paper offers a framework to determine the elements of the social dimension. With these capitals, barriers to the access to the rule of law for individuals can be identified, and solutions can be offered.


Nathalie Franziska Hendrika Schnabl
Nathalie Schnabl is promovenda aan de Faculteit Rechtswetenschappen van de Open Universiteit.
Article

Access_open De gewetensbeslissing in Scholtens rechtsmethodologie

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Geweten, feiten, Scholten, Kierkegaard, naastenliefde
Authors Jos Vleugel
AbstractAuthor's information

    The role that Paul Scholten assigns to conscience in his legal methodology still leads to heated discussions in literature after almost 100 years. Recognizing that in case law the conscience of the judge can be of decisive importance is apparently problematic. It would facilitate political court rulings, make judicial judgment uncontrollable and could be arbitrary for the parties to the legal dispute. Not only Scholten’s view on the role of conscience in judicial decision making is “a stumbling block”. At least as great is the fuss about his representation of conscience. Only Christian lawyers could identify with this. This article attempts to shed new light on the above points of criticism by drawing attention to the following aspects of Scholten’s legal methodology: the role of the facts in establishing the law, the nature of the legal judgment and finally the grounds on which conscience may be determined.


Jos Vleugel
Jos Vleugel is universitair docent staatsrecht aan de Universiteit Utrecht.
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/
Article

Access_open Voters of Populist Parties and Support for Reforms of Representative Democracy in Belgium

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Belgian politics, democratic reforms, elections, populist voters, representative democracy
Authors Lisa van Dijk, Thomas Legein, Jean-Benoit Pilet e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Recently, studies have burgeoned on the link between populism and demands for democratic reforms. In particular, scholars have been debating the link between populist citizens or voters and support for referendums. In this article, we examine voters of populist parties (Vlaams Belang (VB) and Parti du Travail de Belgique-Partij van de Arbeid (PTB-PVDA)) in Belgium in 2019 and we look at their attitudes towards various types of democratic reforms. We find that voters of populist parties differ from the non-populist electorate in their support for different kinds of reforms of representative democracy. Voters of VB and PTB-PVDA have in common stronger demands for limiting politicians’ prerogatives, for introducing binding referendums and for participatory budgeting. While Vlaams Belang voters are not significantly different from the non-populist electorate on advisory referendums, citizens’ forums or technocratic reform, PVDA-PTB voters seem more enthusiastic.


Lisa van Dijk
Lisa van Dijk (corresponding author), KU Leuven.

Thomas Legein
Thomas Legein, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

Jean-Benoit Pilet
Jean-Benoit Pilet, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

Sofie Marien
Sofie Marien, KU Leuven.
Article

Access_open Emotions and Vote Choice

An Analysis of the 2019 Belgian Elections

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Belgium, elections, emotions, voting behaviour
Authors Caroline Close and Emilie van Haute
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article digs into the relationship between voters’ political resentment and their electoral choice in 2019 by focusing on the respondents’ emotions towards politics. Using the RepResent 2019 voter survey, eight emotions are analysed in their relation to voting behaviour: four negative (anger, bitterness, worry and fear) and four positive (hope, relief, joy and satisfaction). We confirm that voters’ emotional register is at least two-dimensional, with one positive and one negative dimension, opening the possibility for different combinations of emotions towards politics. We also find different emotional patterns across party choices, and more crucially, we uncover a significant effect of emotions (especially negative ones) on vote choice, even when controlling for other determinants. Finally, we look at the effect of election results on emotions and we observe a potential winner vs. loser effect with distinctive dynamics in Flanders and in Wallonia.


Caroline Close
Caroline Close is Assistant Professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles (Charleroi campus). Her research and teaching interests include party politics, representation and political participation from a comparative perspective. She has published her work in Party Politics, Political Studies, Parliamentary Affairs, The Journal of Legislative Studies, Representation, Acta Politica and the Journal of European Integration. She regularly contributes to research and publications on Belgian politics.

Emilie van Haute
Emilie van Haute is Chair of the Department of Political Science at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and researcher at the Centre d’étude de la vie politique (Cevipol). Her research interests focus on party membership, intra-party dynamics, elections, and voting behaviour. Her research has appeared in West European Politics, Party Politics, Electoral Studies, Political Studies, European Political Science and Acta Politica. She is co-editor of Acta Politica.
Article

Access_open Moet de strafrechter ook de scheidsrechter zijn van het publieke debat?

De scheiding der machten in het licht van de vrijheid van meningsuiting voor volksvertegenwoordigers

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Freedom of speech, Separation of powers, Criminal law, Hate speech, Legal certainty
Authors Jip Stam
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article contains a critical review of the provisions in the Dutch penal code regarding group defamation and hate speech. It is argued that not only these provisions themselves but also their application by the Dutch supreme court, constitutes a problem for the legitimacy and functioning of representative democracy. This is due to the tendency of the supreme court to employ special constraints for offensive, hateful or discriminatory speech by politicians. Because such a special constraint is not provided or even implied by the legislator, the jurisprudence of the supreme court is likely to end up in judicial overreach and therefore constitutes a potential – if not actual – breach in the separation of powers. In order to forestall these consequences, the protection of particularly political speech should be improved, primarily by a revision of the articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch penal code or the extension of parliamentary immunity.


Jip Stam
Jip Stam is onderzoeker en docent bij de afdeling Encyclopedie van de rechtswetenschap aan de Leidse rechtenfaculteit.

    Een rechtsstaat is gebaseerd op zelfbinding van de overheid aan het recht. Deze zelfbinding moet verankerd zijn in regels die onder meer de onafhankelijkheid van de rechterlijke macht vastleggen. De ontwikkelingen in Polen en elders tonen echter aan dat juridische regels van zelfbinding geen blokkades maar verkeersdrempels zijn op de weg naar despotisch bestuur. Een rechtsstaat vereist vooral een cultuur van zelfbinding. De conceptualisering van deze rechtsstaatcultuur staat nog in de kinderschoenen.


Ronald Janse
Ronald Janse is hoogleraar Encyclopedie van de rechtswetenschap aan de Open Universiteit.

Elaine Mak
Elaine Mak is hoogleraar Rechtstheorie en Enclyopedie van de rechtswetenschappen aan de Universiteit Utrecht.

Anne Ruth Mackor
Anne Ruth Mackor is hoogleraar Hoogleraar professie-ethiek, in het bijzonder van juridische professies aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

Iris van Domselaar
Iris van Domselaar is universitair hoofddocent aan de Amsterdamse rechtenfaculteit.
Article

Getting Party Activists on Local Lists

How Dutch Local Party Branches Perform Their Recruitment Function

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2020
Keywords municipal politics, political parties, candidate lists, local party branches, recruitment
Authors Simon Otjes, Marcel Boogers and Gerrit Voerman
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines what explains the performance of Dutch local party branches in the recruitment of candidates for municipal councils. Fielding a list of candidates is the most basic function of political parties. In the Netherlands, party branches are under pressure from the low number of party members. To analyse how branches fulfil their role in recruitment, we employ our own survey of the secretaries of party branches held in the run-up to the 2018 municipal election. We find that party membership drives the successful fulfilment of the recruitment function but that, more than the absolute number of members, the crucial factors are how these party members cooperate, the number of active members and the development of this number.


Simon Otjes
Simon Otjes is Assistant Professor of Dutch Politics at Leiden University and researcher at the Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties of Groningen University. His research focuses on political parties, parliaments and public opinion. His articles have appeared in the American Journal of Political Science and in the European Journal of Political Research, among others.

Marcel Boogers
Marcel Boogers is Professor of Innovation and Regional governance at Twente University. His research focuses on the structure of and dynamics within networks of local and regional governments. Boogers combines his position at Twente University with a position as senior advisor at consultancy firm BMC.

Gerrit Voerman
Gerrit Voerman is Professor of the Development and Function of the Dutch and European Party System at Groningen University and Director of its Centre Dutch Political Parties. His research focuses on political parties, their history and their organisation. He is editor of a long-running series of books on Dutch political parties.
Article

Access_open Introduction: Parties at the Grassroots

Local Party Branches in the Low Countries

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2020
Authors Bram Wauters, Simon Otjes and Emilie van Haute
Author's information

Bram Wauters
Bram Wauters is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Sciences of Ghent University, where he leads the research group GASPAR. His research interests include political representation, elections and political parties, with specific attention for diversity. He has recently published on these topics in journals such as Party Politics, Political Studies, Politics & Gender and Political Research Quarterly. He is co-editor (with Knut Heidar) of ‘Do parties still represent?’ (Routledge, 2019).

Simon Otjes
Simon Otjes is Assistant Professor of Dutch Politics at Leiden University and researcher at the Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties of Groningen University. His research focuses on political parties, parliaments and public opinion. His research has appeared in various journals, including American Journal of Political Science and European Journal of Political Research.

Emilie van Haute
Emilie van Haute is Chair of the Department of Political Science at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and researcher at the Centre d’étude de la vie politique (Cevipol). Her research interests focus on party membership, intra-party dynamics, elections and voting behaviour. Her research has appeared in West European Politics, Party Politics, Electoral Studies, Political Studies or European Political Science. She is co-editor of Acta Politica.
Article

Between Party Democracy and Citizen Democracy

Explaining Attitudes of Flemish Local Chairs Towards Democratic Innovations

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2020
Keywords democratic innovations, citizen participation, local politics, Flanders, Belgium
Authors Didier Caluwaerts, Anna Kern, Min Reuchamps e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    As a response to the perceived legitimacy crisis that threatens modern democracies, local government has increasingly become a laboratory for democratic renewal and citizen participation. This article studies whether and why local party chairs support democratic innovations fostering more citizen participation. More specifically, we analyse the relative weight of ideas, interests and institutions in explaining their support for citizen-centred democracy. Based on the Belgian Local Chairs Survey in 2018 (albeit restricting our analysis to Flanders), the central finding is that ideas matter more than interests and institutions. Ideology is alive and kicking with regard to democratic innovation, with socialist and ecologist parties and populist parties being most supportive of participatory arrangements. By contrast, interests and institutions play, at this stage, a minor role in explaining support for participatory innovations.


Didier Caluwaerts
Didier Caluwaerts is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His research and teaching deal with Belgian and comparative politics and democratic governance in deeply divided societies. His work has been published in various journals, including European Political Science Review, West European Politics, the Journal of Legislative Studies and Acta Politica.

Anna Kern
Anna Kern is Assistant Professor at research group GASPAR at the Department of Political Science of Ghent University. Her main research interests include political participation, political equality and political legitimacy. Her work has been published in international peer-reviewed journals such as West European Politics, Local Government Studies, Social Science Research and Political Behavior.

Min Reuchamps
Min Reuchamps is Professor of Political science at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain). His teaching and research interests are federalism and multilevel 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.

Tony Valcke
Tony Valcke is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of Ghent University. He is a member of the Centre for Local Politics (CLP) and coordinator of the Teacher Training Department. His research, publications and educational activities focus on elections and democratic participation/innovation, citizenship (education), (the history of) political institutions and (local) government reform, political elites and leadership.

Irawan Sewandono
Irawan Sewandono is universitair docent staats- en bestuursrecht aan de Open Universiteit.

Tom Daems
Tom Daems is Associate Professor at the Leuven Institute of Criminology (LINC), KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Article

Access_open Het 100-jarige bestaan van de Vereeniging voor Wijsbegeerte des Rechts

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2019
Keywords oprichting, doelstelling, band met de rechtspraktijk, rechtsfilosofie en rechtstheorie, internationalisering (van Duits naar Engels)
Authors Corjo Jansen
AbstractAuthor's information

    De Vereeniging voor Wijsbegeerte des Rechts (VWR) is opgericht op 28 december 1918. Zij had tot doel de studie van de rechtsfilosofie en het maatschappelijk leven. Deze studie moest tevens relevant zijn voor de rechtspraktijk. Vanaf haar oprichting kende de VWR een sterke internationale oriëntatie, aanvankelijk gericht op Duitsland, later vooral op het Verenigd Koninkrijk en de VS. In de jaren zeventig en tachtig van de vorige eeuw beleefde de VWR wat betreft belangstelling en ledenaantal haar hoogtepunt. In 2016 besloot zij – na een gestage neergang – de band met de Nederlandstalige (praktijk)jurist weer aan te halen.


Corjo Jansen
Corjo Jansen is hoogleraar Rechtsgeschiedenis en Burgerlijk recht en voorzitter van het Onderzoekcentrum Onderneming & Recht van de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.

    In dit artikel wordt de waarde van het instituut parlement verkend. Daartoe analyseert de auteur eerst een lezing die de Nederlandse staatsrechtsgeleerde C.W. van der Pot in 1925 over dit thema hield bij de VWR. Vervolgens wordt Van der Pots opvatting gecontrasteerd met de diametraal tegengestelde benadering van Carl Schmitt, die zich, rond dezelfde tijd, over dit vraagstuk boog in Duitsland. Tot slot schetst de auteur, via een alternatieve, wellicht excentrieke, interpretatie van Schmitt waar een belangrijke waarde van het moderne parlement zou kunnen liggen.


Bastiaan Rijpkema
Bastiaan Rijpkema is universitair docent aan de afdeling Encyclopedie van de Rechtswetenschap van de Universiteit Leiden.
Discussion

Access_open Naar een kritische en relevante rechtstheorie

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2019
Keywords grondslagen, normatief systeem, buitenstaanderperspectief, empirisch perspectief
Authors Pauline Westerman
AbstractAuthor's information

    Een pleidooi om de eeuwige zoektocht naar abstracte normatieve grondslagen te staken en op zoek te gaan naar de voorwaarden voor het ontstaan en voortbestaan van normatieve systemen vanuit een buitenstaandersperspectief dat conceptuele anayse verbindt met historische en sociologische inzichten.


Pauline Westerman
Pauline Westerman is hoogleraar Rechtsfilosofie aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
Article

Access_open De Vlaamse inbreng in de VWR

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2019
Keywords rechtstheorie, rechtsfilosofie, universitair beleid, Vlaanderen, professionalisering
Authors Mark Van Hoecke
AbstractAuthor's information

    Na een beperkte Vlaamse participatie tussen 1935 en 1970, kwam er een geleidelijke verankering van de VWR in Vlaanderen, met een grote bloei in de jaren tachtig en negentig, met jonge professoren die voltijds actief waren op het gebied van de rechtsfilosofie en/of de rechtstheorie. Na 2000 vermindert de inbreng van Vlaanderen echter in belangrijke mate. Er wordt nog vrij veel gepubliceerd in R&R/NJLP, maar nauwelijks nog door professionele rechtsfilosofen of rechtstheoretici. Institutioneel wordt de internationale (Engelstalige) dimensie van de VWR versterkt (redactieraad, sprekers), maar vermindert de Vlaamse aanwezigheid in redactie, redactieraad en bestuur. De Vlaamse aanwezigheden op VWR-vergaderingen zijn vaak eenmalig en steeds minder van professionele rechtsfilosofen of rechtstheoretici. De afbouw van de leerstoelen en zelfs van het onderwijs in deze domeinen in Vlaanderen is de belangrijkste verklaring hiervoor.


Mark Van Hoecke
Mark Van Hoecke is hoogleraar Rechtsvergelijking aan de Queen Mary University of London.
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