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Article

Truly Exceptional? Participants in the Belgian 2019 Youth for Climate Protest Wave

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue Online First 2022
Keywords protest, participation, inequality, climate change, Fridays For Future
Authors Ruud Wouters, Michiel De Vydt and Luna Staes
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2019, the world witnessed an exceptional wave of climate protests. In this case study, we scrutinise who participated in the protests staged in Belgium. We ask: did the exceptional mobilising context of the 2019 protest wave also bring exceptional protesters to the streets? Were thanks to the unique momentum standard barriers to protest participation overcome? We answer these questions by comparing three surveys of participants in the 2019 protest wave with three surveys of relevant reference publics. Our findings show that while the Belgian 2019 protest was in many ways exceptional, its participants were less so. Although participants – especially in the early phase of the protest wave – were less protest experienced, younger and unaffiliated to organisations, our findings simultaneously confirm the persistence of a great many well-known socio-demographic and political inequalities. Our conclusion centres on the implications of these findings.


Ruud Wouters
Ruud Wouters, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp. He studies protest participation and the impact of protest on media, public opinion and politics.

Michiel De Vydt
Michiel De Vydt is a PhD student at the University of Antwerp. He studies the micro-level predictors and outcomes of interpersonal protest recruitment.

Luna Staes
Luna Staes is a PhD student at the University of Antwerp. She studies how protest affects public opinion in the hybrid media environment. All authors are members of research group Media, Movements & Politics (M²P) at the political science department of the University of Antwerp.

    The French Supreme Court has held that exceeding the maximum weekly working time causes automatic harm to the employee which should be repaired.


Claire Toumieux
Claire Toumieux is partner at Allen & Overy, Paris.

Susan Ekrami
Susan Ekrami is counsel at Allen & Overy, Paris.
Article

Access_open Is Euroscepticism Contagious?

How Mainstream Parties React to Eurosceptic Challengers in Belgian Parliaments

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords Euroscepticism, parliaments, party competition, Belgium, federalism
Authors Jordy Weyns and Peter Bursens
AbstractAuthor's information

    Euroscepticism has long been absent among Belgian political parties. However, since the start of the century, some Eurosceptic challengers have risen. This article examines the effect of Eurosceptic competition on the salience other parties give to the EU and on the positions these parties take in parliament. Using a sample of plenary debates in the federal and regional parliaments, we track each party’s evolution from 2000 until 2019. Our findings both contradict and qualify existing theories and findings on Eurosceptic competition. When facing Eurosceptic challengers, all parties raise salience fairly equally, but government and peripheral parties adopted (soft) Euroscepticism more often than other parties.


Jordy Weyns
Jordy Weyns is a doctoral student at the European University Institute in Florence.

Peter Bursens
Peter Bursens is professor of political science at Universiteit Antwerpen, at the research group Politics and Public Governance and the GOVTRUST Centre of Excellence.
Article

Access_open Appendix Is Euroscepticism Contagious?

How Mainstream Parties React to Eurosceptic Challengers in Belgian Parliaments

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords Euroscepticism, parliaments, party competition, Belgium, federalism
Authors Jordy Weyns and Peter Bursens
AbstractAuthor's information

    Euroscepticism has long been absent among Belgian political parties. However, since the start of the century, some Eurosceptic challengers have risen. This article examines the effect of Eurosceptic competition on the salience other parties give to the EU and on the positions these parties take in parliament. Using a sample of plenary debates in the federal and regional parliaments, we track each party’s evolution from 2000 until 2019. Our findings both contradict and qualify existing theories and findings on Eurosceptic competition. When facing Eurosceptic challengers, all parties raise salience fairly equally, but government and peripheral parties adopted (soft) Euroscepticism more often than other parties.


Jordy Weyns
Jordy Weyns is a recent graduate from Universiteit Antwerpen, and will soon start a PhD program at the European University Institute in Firenze.

Peter Bursens
Peter Bursens is professor of political science at Universiteit Antwerpen, at the research group Politics and Public Governance and the GOVTRUST Centre of Excellence.
Article

Fit for Office? The Perception of Female and Male Politicians by Dutch Voters

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords political underrepresentation, gender stereotypes, role incongruity, candidate evaluation, experimental vignette study
Authors Rozemarijn E. van Dijk and Joop van Holsteyn
AbstractAuthor's information

    The underrepresentation of women in politics is a worldwide phenomenon and the Netherlands fit the pattern: about 39% of the Dutch MPs are female. Based on social role incongruity theory, it is expected that female politicians are evaluated more negatively than male politicians since women do not fit the dominant male politician role. However, most research is conducted in the United States, that is, a candidate-centred system where individual characteristics play an important role. This article focuses on the party-centred parliamentary context in which we examine (1) whether gender stereotypes are present among citizens and (2) to what extent these stereotypes influence the evaluation of politicians. We do this by conducting an experimental vignette survey design. We find that at the mass level there is no difference between the evaluation of male and female politicians, although gender stereotypes are present.


Rozemarijn E. van Dijk
Rozemarijn E. van Dijk is a PhD student at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Joop van Holsteyn
Joop J.M. van Holsteyn is Professor in Political Behaviour and Research Methods at Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Article

Morality in the Populist Radical Right

A Computer-Assisted Morality Frame Analysis of a Prototype

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords Populist radical right, morality, frame analysis, word2vec, crimmigration
Authors Job P.H. Vossen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article provides a computer-assisted morality framing analysis of Vlaams Belang’s 2019 manifesto. The VB is regarded in the literature as a prototypical example of the Populist Radical Right (PRR). We first concisely review what PRR politics is and what it consists of, tentatively distinguishing four elements that we hypothesise will materialise in corresponding subframes running throughout the manifesto. We point to a mismatch between the omnipresent role of morality in all PRR subframes and the little attention devoted to the concept in the PRR literature. We introduce a useful theory from social psychology into framing literature to create a novel methodological approach to frame analysis that builds a bridge between a qualitative content and a quantitative context approach. The results support our hypothesis that populism, nationalism, nativism and authoritarianism can be distinguished from one another. Additionally, we detect a fifth PRR subframe, crimmigration, by its unique role of morality.


Job P.H. Vossen
Job Vossen is a PhD candidate at the University of Antwerp. His research investigates (im)morality in political discoursing and its interacting with fear, solidarity and gender and sexuality. The corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
Article

Opening an Absolute Majority A Typology of Motivations for Opening and Selecting Coalition Partners

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords negotiation, absolute majority, oversized coalition, motivations, local election
Authors Geoffrey Grandjean and Valentine Meens
AbstractAuthor's information

    Following the municipal elections in the Walloon Region (Belgium) on 14 October 2018, 189 political groups won an absolute majority. Twenty-two of these decided not to exercise power alone, but favoured the formation of an oversized coalition by integrating a minority partner. The aim of this article is to identify the motivations behind the formation of a local coalition when one of the partners has an absolute majority. Semi-structured interviews with mayors and leaders of political groups in these municipalities make it possible to identify the motivations for, first, the choice to open and, second, the choice of a minority partner. By distinguishing between necessary and supporting motivations, this article shows that the search for greater representation is a necessary motivation for the choice to open, whereas personal affinities and memories of the past are necessary motivations for choosing minority partners. By prioritising motivations, this article shows that.


Geoffrey Grandjean
Geoffrey Grandjean is Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Law, Political Science and Criminology of the University of Liege and Director of the Institut de la decision publique.

Valentine Meens
Valentine Meens is Assistant of Political Science at the Faculty of Law, Political Science and Criminology of the University of Liege.

Tim Chapman
Tim Chapman is an independent researcher and trainer and chair of the European Forum for Restorative Justice since 2016. Corresponding author: Tim Chapman at info@timchapman.eu.
Article

Appendix Fit for Office? The Perception of Female and Male Politicians by Dutch Voters

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords political underrepresentation, gender stereotypes, role incongruity, candidate evaluation, experimental vignette study
Authors Rozemarijn Esmee van Dijk and Joop van Holsteyn
AbstractAuthor's information

    The underrepresentation of women in politics is a worldwide phenomenon and the Netherlands fit the pattern: about 39% of the Dutch MPs are female. Based on social role incongruity theory, it is expected that female politicians are evaluated more negatively than male politicians since women do not fit the dominant male politician role. However, most research is conducted in the United States, that is, a candidate-centred system where individual characteristics play an important role. This article focuses on the party-centred parliamentary context in which we examine (1) whether gender stereotypes are present among citizens and (2) to what extent these stereotypes influence the evaluation of politicians. We do this by conducting an experimental vignette survey design. We find that at the mass level there is no difference between the evaluation of male and female politicians, although gender stereotypes are present.


Rozemarijn Esmee van Dijk
Rozemarijn E. van Dijk is a PhD student at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Joop van Holsteyn
Joop J.M. van Holsteyn is Professor in Political Behaviour and Research Methods at Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Reflections on Digital Human Rights Practice Research and Human Rights Universality

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2021
Keywords non-coherence theory of digital human rights, network approach, universality of human rights, transversality effect
Authors Mart Susi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The idea of universality of human rights is under multidimensional challenges entailing the aspects of practice generalization and postmodern social theories with juridical ambitions. Competing theories continue to exist and the elements of choice between theories are determined by practice, convenience and economies and not necessarily by idealistic goals. Among the many arguments raised against the universality of human rights stands the network approach, which is characterized by permeability, its supportive purpose of vertical normative structures, its impact on the rise of social responsibility, obscuring effect on legitimacy and “reliance on trust”. Supportive purpose of vertical normative structures in a network means that private networks can articulate the claim for correctness in self-regulation due to the existence of the vertical normative backbone. One of the main reservations related to digital human rights law and remedies through the network approach is that of distortion of legitimacy. The article approaches these issues through a novel theoretical approach of non-coherence.


Mart Susi
Mart Susi is Professor of human rights law at Tallinn University, Editor-in-Chief, Action Chair of Global Digital Human Rights Network

    This study explores the spread of disinformation relating to the Covid-19 pandemic on the internet, dubbed by some as the pandemic’s accompanying “infodemic”, and the societal reactions to this development across different countries and platforms. The study’s focus is on the role of states and platforms in combatting online disinformation.
    Through synthesizing answers to questions submitted by more than 40 researchers from 20 countries within the GDHR Network, this exploratory study provides a first overview of how states and platforms have dealt with Corona-related disinformation. This can also provide incentives for further rigorous studies of disinformation governance standards and their impact across different socio-cultural environments.
    Regarding the platforms’ willingness and efficacy in removing (presumed) disinformation, a majority of submissions identifies a shift towards more intervention in pandemic times. Most submitters assess that this shift is widely welcomed in their respective countries and more often considered as taking place too slowly (rather than being perceived as entailing dangers for unjustified restrictions of freedom of expression). The picture is less clear when it comes to enforcing non-speech related infection prevention measures.
    While the dominant platforms have been able to defend, or even solidify, their position during the pandemic, communicative practices on those platforms are changing. For officials, this includes an increasing reliance on platforms, especially social networks, for communicating infection prevention rules and recommendations. For civil society, the pandemic has brought an increasing readiness – and perceived need – to intervene against disinformation, especially through fact-checking initiatives.
    National and local contexts show great variance at whether platform-driven disinformation is conceived as a societal problem. In countries where official sources are distrusted and/or seen as disseminating disinformation criticism against private information governance by platforms remains muted. In countries where official sources are trusted disinformation present on platforms is seen more negatively.
    While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram play important roles in the pandemic communication environment, some replies point towards an increasing importance of messaging apps for the circulation of Covid-19-related disinformation. These apps, like Telegram or WhatsApp, tend to fall under the radar of researchers, because visibility of content is limited and scraping is difficult, and because they are not covered by Network Enforcement Act-type laws that usually exclude one-to-one communication platforms (even if they offer one-to-many channels).
    Vis-à-vis widespread calls for a (re)territorialization of their content governance standards and processes amid the pandemic, platform companies have maintained, by and large, global standards. Standardized, featured sections for national (health) authorities to distribute official information via platforms are exceptions thereto.


Matthias C. Kettemann
Prof. dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard) is head of the research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces” at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut.

Martin Fertmann
Martin Fertmann is a PhD student at the Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut’s research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces”.

    Terms-of-service based actions against political and state actors as both key subjects and objects of political opinion formation have become a focal point of the ongoing debates over who should set and enforce the rules for speech on online platforms.
    With minor differences depending on national contexts, state regulation of platforms creating obligations to disseminate such actors’ information is considered dangerous for the free and unhindered discursive process that leads to the formation of public opinions.
    Reactions to the suspension of Trump as not the first, but the most widely discussed action of platform companies against a politician (and incumbent president) provide a glimpse on the state of platform governance debates across participating countries.
    Across the countries surveyed politicians tend to see the exercise of content moderation policies of large platform companies very critically
    The majority of politicians in European countries seem to be critical of the deplatforming of Trump, emphasizing fundamental rights and calling for such decisions to be made by states, not private companies
    These political standpoints stand in an unresolved conflict with the constitutional realities of participating countries, where incumbents usually cannot invoke fundamental rights when acting in their official capacities and where laws with “must carry” requirements for official information do not exist for social media and would likely only be constitutional for narrowly defined, special circumstances such as disaster prevention.
    Facebooks’ referral of the Trump-decision to its Oversight Board sparked a larger debate about institutional structures for improving content governance. The majority of participating countries has experience with self- or co-regulatory press-, media- or broadcasting councils to which comparisons can be drawn, foreshadowing the possible (co-regulatory) future of governing online speech.
    Media commentators in participating countries interpreted the deplatforming of Trump as a signal that far-right parties and politicians around the world may face increasing scrutiny, while conservative politicians and governments in multiple participating countries instrumentalized the actions against Trump as supposed proof of platform’s bias against conservative opinions.
    Even without specific legal requirements on content moderation, submissions from several countries refer to a general – often: constitutional – privileging of speech of politicians and office holders. This could potentially support or even compel the decisions of platforms to leave content of political actors up even if it violates their terms of service.


Martin Fertmann
Martin Fertmann is a PhD student at the Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut’s research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces”

Matthias C. Kettemann
Prof. dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard) is head of the research programme “Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces” at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut.
Article

Access_open Victims’ Fundamental Need for Safety and Privacy and the Role of Legislation and Empirical Evidence

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2021
Keywords needs for safety, victim impact statements, legislation, Empirical Legal Studies, privacy protection
Authors Marijke Malsch
AbstractAuthor's information

    Various laws, guidelines and other types of regulation have been created that introduced new rights worldwide for victims of crime. Many of these rights focus on active victims who wish to step into the open and to orally express their views and experiences in court. Rights and wishes to remain in the background and to preserve one’s privacy received less attention. This article focuses primarily on the wishes of victims that reveal their intention to not play an active role in the criminal process, and on victims who fear an invasion of their safety and privacy. According to the literature, such wishes and needs can be considered to be fundamental. The article questions the empirical basis for the present victim legislation: are the new laws that have been created over the decades founded on empirically established victim needs, or on presumed victim needs? The article concludes with a plea for a more extensive use of empirical findings that shed light on victim wishes in the legislation and the criminal process.


Marijke Malsch
Marijke Malsch is Professor of Empirical Legal Studies at Open Universiteit Netherlands.
Article

Implementation of Law Reform Proposals in the United Kingdom: A Continuing Dilemma?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2021
Keywords law reform, government, legislation, parliament, implementation
Authors Jonathan Teasdale
AbstractAuthor's information

    Law reform in the joint jurisdiction of England and Wales, and in Scotland, was put on a formal footing in 1965. Down the years the two Law Commissions (as statutory independent bodies) worked diligently to produce a significant number of reports advising government on steps to be taken to update and simplify swathes of the law. But by 2009 the legislative implementation rate had slipped badly and Parliament then passed an Act which (for England and Wales) facilitated a governmental protocol designed to make parliamentary review of progress more transparent. The Ministry of Justice acts as gatekeeper for the implementation process. In the short term implementation was taken more seriously, driven by the incentive of the MoJ having to report annually to parliament on progress. In more recent years, however, both implementation and the statutory reporting mechanism have been allowed to slip: there are few signs that the situation is likely to improve. This article examines the position and seeks to explain, notwithstanding some of the real obstacles to swifter implementation, that both parliament through its select committees, and government, need to give the issue greater priority. Systematic review of the law, and the delivering of legislative change, underpin both the rule of law and the essence of the democratic settlement.


Jonathan Teasdale
Jonathan Teasdale is Associate research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS, University of London) and co-leader of the IALS Law Reform Project at the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies.
Article

Building Resilience Against Secondary Sanctions in an Increasingly Polarized World

The Amendment of the EU Blocking Statute

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2021
Keywords sanctions, economic sanctions, secondary sanctions, European Union, blocking statute
Authors Mario Mas Palacios
AbstractAuthor's information

    The spectre of foreign secondary sanctions is looming large again in the European Union after the reinstatement in 2018 of US sanctions with extraterritorial effects on Iran. However, in a context of increasing global polarization and geopolitical tensions, the challenge of secondary sanctions goes beyond US sanctions against Iran. The EU 1996 blocking statute is aimed at countering the negative effects that these sanctions have in the European Union, but there is a general consensus that it has failed to preserve the Union’s interests. This article analyses the challenges that secondary sanctions pose in the European Union and the current response provided by the blocking statute. It suggests that an amended statute may play an important role within the broader European policy against secondary sanctions, although it is not by itself a sufficient mechanism. It concludes by suggesting how the statute could be amended to better achieve its objectives.


Mario Mas Palacios
Mario Mas Palacios, LL.M. Harvard Law School. Fulbright Scholar and Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard Scholar. International Associate Lawyer at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (New York, NY, USA). Associate Lawyer at Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira, S.L.P. (Barcelona, Spain).
Developments in European Law

The PSPP Judgment of the German Federal Constitutional Court

The Judge’s Theatre According to Karlsruhe

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords German Constitutional Court, basic law, ultra vires, European Central Bank, primacy of Union law
Authors Maria Kordeva
AbstractAuthor's information

    The PSPP decision of 5 May 2020 rendered by the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) does not constitute a break with the earlier jurisprudence of the FCC elaborated since the Lisbon Treaty judgment of 30 June 2009. Even though qualifying the acts of the Union as ultra vires has been likened to a warlike act, one should beware of hasty conclusions and look closely at the analysis of the Second Senate to form a moderate opinion of this decision decried by European and national commentators. Should the PSPP judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court be classified as “much ado about nothing”, despite the procedure started by the European Commission, or, on the contrary, will the CJEU in the next months, sanction Germany for its obvious affront to and breach of the principle of the primacy of Union law? The (final?) power grab between the European and national courts remains to be seen. We can criticize the German FCC that it put the fundamental principles of the Union in danger. Yet, it is worth reflecting on the possible encroachment of competences by European institutions, because, in this case, the red line between monetary policy and economic policy is more than thin.


Maria Kordeva
Maria Kordeva: PhD in Public Law (University of Strasburg/University of Constance), lecturer and research associate, Saarland University, Saarbrücken.
Developments in International Law

Is the World Ready to Overcome the Thesis of the Clash of Civilizations?

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords clash of civilizations, end of history, tragedy of great power politics, dignity of difference, clash of ignorance
Authors István Lakatos
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article provides a critical overview of the Clash of Civilizations theory by Samuel Huntington, but in this context it also addresses two other important books also aimed at finding the correct answers to the new challenges of the post-Cold War era; Huntington’s work was also an answer to their thesis. They are Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man, and John Mearsheimer’s The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. I argue that neither the Clash of Civilizations nor the End of History theses correctly captures the complexity of our contemporary social and political life, as they are both based on the assumption of the superiority of the West and the inferiority of the Rest.


István Lakatos
István Lakatos: career diplomat, former human rights ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) of Hungary, currently senior adviser at the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights of Montenegro.
Developments in European Law

The First Ever Ultra Vires Judgment of the German Federal Constitutional Court: PSPP

Will the Barking Dog Bite More Than Once?

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords judicial dialogue, ultra vires, PSPP, German Federal Constitutional Court, infringement procedure
Authors Robert Böttner
AbstractAuthor's information

    In May 2020, the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) delivered its judgment in the PSPP case. At first it seemed that it would be a remake of the Gauweiler/OMT case between the German Court and the CJEU. Shockingly, however, the German FCC decided that not only had the ECB acted ultra vires by failing to duly justify its PSPP decision, but it also found the CJEU to have delivered an incomprehensible and objectively arbitrary judgment by which the German Court was not bound. This case note not only traces the history of the PSPP proceedings, but it also tries to review the heavy criticism that the FCC’s verdict has garnered. In the context of European integration and due to the German FCC’s authority among supreme courts in Europe, it is a dangerous precedent, that the European Commission tries to curb through infringement proceedings. One can only hope that it will be settled for good and shall remain an unfortunate but singular incident.


Robert Böttner
Robert Böttner: assistant professor of law, University of Erfurt.
Case Notes

Can a Two-Tailed Dog Be Allowed Into the Polling Booth?

The Case of Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt Versus Hungary Before the ECtHR

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords freedom of speech, elections, ECtHR, democracy, secrecy of votes
Authors János Tamás Papp
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Hungarian satirical Two-Tailed Dog Party (Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt – MKKP) applied to the ECtHR as a result of the decisions rendered by the Hungarian National Electoral Commission, the Curia of Hungary and the Constitutional Court, who ruled that a mobile application developed by the party allowing anonymous users to share their invalid votes violated Hungarian election law. By 16 votes to 1, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR ruled that the Hungarian authorities had violated the Article of the ECHR on freedom of expression. According to the ECtHR’s reasoning, the severe uncertainties about the possible consequences of the legal provisions applied by the domestic authorities went beyond what is permissible under Article 10(2) ECHR. The ECtHR has ruled that a judicial interpretation of a law’s rules does not inherently violate the requirement that laws be written in such a way that the legal implications are predictable. However, since the national law in this case provided for a case-by-case limitation on the expression of an opinion on voting, electoral bodies and national courts that interpreted and enforced these rules enjoyed an excessive amount of discretion. In conclusion, the ECtHR found that legislation restricting freedom of expression must be treated more strictly in connection with electoral procedures: it must not be in any way misleading or inconsistent.


János Tamás Papp
János Tamás Papp: PhD candidate, research fellow, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; media specialist, Institute for Media Studies of the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority, Budapest.
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.
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