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Article

Is Euroscepticism Contagious?

How Mainstream Parties React to Eurosceptic Challengers in Belgian Parliaments

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue Online First 2021
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

Interest Representation in Belgium

Mapping the Size and Diversity of an Interest Group Population in a Multi-layered Neo-corporatist Polity

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2021
Keywords interest groups, advocacy, access, advisory councils, media attention
Authors Evelien Willems, Jan Beyers and Frederik Heylen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article assesses the size and diversity of Belgium’s interest group population by triangulating four data sources. Combining various sources allows us to describe which societal interests get mobilised, which interest organisations become politically active and who gains access to the policy process and obtains news media attention. Unique about the project is the systematic data collection, enabling us to compare interest representation at the national, Flemish and Francophone-Walloon government levels. We find that: (1) the national government level remains an important venue for interest groups, despite the continuous transfer of competences to the subnational and European levels, (2) neo-corporatist mobilisation patterns are a persistent feature of interest representation, despite substantial interest group diversity and (3) interest mobilisation substantially varies across government levels and political-administrative arenas.


Evelien Willems
Evelien Willems is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp. Her research focuses on the interplay between interest groups, public opinion and public policy.

Jan Beyers
Jan Beyers is Full Professor of Political Science at the University of Antwerp. His current research projects focus on how interest groups represent citizens interests and to what extent the politicization of public opinion affects processes of organized interest representation in public policymaking.

Frederik Heylen
Frederik Heylen holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Antwerp. His doctoral dissertation addresses the organizational development of civil society organizations and its internal and external consequences for interest representation. He is co-founder and CEO of Datamarinier.
Article

Environmental justice movements and restorative justice

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Keywords restorative justice, environmental conflicts, environmental justice movements
Authors Angèle Minguet
AbstractAuthor's information

    The worldwide existing environmental conflicts have also given rise to worldwide environmental justice movements. Using a diversity of tools that range from petitions to legal actions, what such movements have often shown is that environmental conflicts rarely find a satisfactory resolution through criminal judicial avenues. Given this reality, the important question then is whether there is a place within environmental justice movements for a restorative justice approach, which would lead to the reparation or restoration of the environment and involve the offenders, the victims and other interested parties in the conflict transformation process. Based on the analysis of environmental conflicts collected by the Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade project (EJOLT), and more specifically on two emblematic environmental conflict cases in Nigeria and in Ecuador, the argument will be made that it is essentially due to the characteristics of environmental conflicts, and due to the fact that they almost never find a satisfactory resolution through traditional judicial avenues, that environmental justice movements ask for a restorative approach, and that restorative justice is a sine qua non condition to truly repair environmental injustices, as long as the worldview and nature of the victims is taken into consideration.


Angèle Minguet
Angèle Minguet is a researcher at the Research Centre in Political Science, Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles (CReSPo), Belgium. Contact author: angele.minguet@gmail.com.
Article

Does the Fight Against the Pandemic Risk Centralizing Power in Pakistan?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords PTI government, 18th amendment, 1973 Constitution, lockdown, economic impact
Authors David A. Thirlby
AbstractAuthor's information

    When the pandemic struck Pakistan, there was a high-profile divergence between how the federal government and the provincial government of Sindh responded. This points to a tension between the need for a national approach to tackle the pandemic and the prerogative of the provinces to deal with health issues under its devolved powers. These powers were the result of the 18th amendment, which restored a parliamentary federal democracy. Power has also been decentralized from executive presidents to parliamentary forms of government. However, parliamentary systems centralize power within the executive: a trend which the pandemic has reinforced. The article will explore the various interplays although it is the economic landscape which will prove most challenging. Although the emergence of a national centralized approach to combat the pandemic points to a weakening of the devolution process and therefore the reasoning behind the 18th amendment, the situation is more complex which this article seeks to explore.


David A. Thirlby
David A. Thirlby is Senior Programme Manager Asia, Westminster Foundation for Democracy
Article

Towards Online Dispute Resolution-Led Justice in China

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Online Dispute Resolution, smart court, internet court, access to justice, China
Authors Carrie Shu Shang and Wenli Guo
AbstractAuthor's information

    The use of online dispute resolution (ODR) in courts is a growing topic of interest. By focusing on the recent development of ODR-connected smart courts in China, this article explores ODR’s potential impact on Chinese legal systems from three aspects: role of courts and the legal profession, due process rights, and information safety. By focusing on changing dispute resolution theories – from emphasizing on conflict resolution to dispute prevention – the article argues that ODR-led court reforms rose to the centre because the reform caters to specific purposes of the recent series of reforms conducted under the auspices of the Rule of Law campaign, by prioritizing efficiency goals and attempting to enhance individualist justice experiences. In this article, we define the meaning of ODR in China and describe and categorize ODR technologies that are currently in use in China. Based on these general findings and promising technological options of ODR, we also recommend ways to better implement ODR in Chinese courts to take full advantage of technological advancements.


Carrie Shu Shang
Carrie Shu Shang, Assistant Professor, Coordinator, Business Law program, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona,

Wenli Guo
Wenli Guo, Ph.D., Assistant President, Beiming Software Co. Ltd., President, Internet Nomocracy Institute of Beiming Software Co. Ltd.,
Article

Regional Differentiation in Europe, between EU Proposals and National Reforms

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2020
Keywords regional differentiation, regional disparities, autonomy, regionalism, subsidiarity, European Union, multilevel governance
Authors Gabriella Saputelli
AbstractAuthor's information

    Regions and local governments play a very important role in the application of European law and in the implementation of European policies. The economic crisis of 2008 has accentuated territorial and social differentiation and highlighted the negative effects of globalization. This circumstance has created resentment among peripheral and marginal communities in the electoral results, but also a strong request for involvement, participation and sometimes independence from territories. These developments raise new questions about the relationship between the EU and the Regions and, more widely, about the role of subnational entities in the EU integration process, as they are the institutions nearest to citizens.
    The aim of this article is to contribute to that debate by exploring the following research question: ‘is subnational differentiation positive or negative for European integration?’ Towards a possible answer, two perspectives are examined from a constitutional law approach. From the top down, it examines the attitude of the EU towards regional differentiation, from the origins of the EU integration process and its development until recent initiatives and proposals. From the bottom up, it analyses the role of subnational entities by presenting the Italian experience, through the reforms that have been approved over the years until the recent proposal for asymmetric regionalism. The aim is to understand whether regional differentiation still represents a positive element for the European integration process, considering the role that subnational entities play in many policies and the challenges described earlier.


Gabriella Saputelli
Researcher of Public Law at the Institute for the Study of Regionalism, Federalism and Self Government (ISSiRFA) of the National Research Council (CNR).
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

Challenges Arising From the Multi-Level Character of EU Citizenship

The Legal Analysis of the Delvigne and Tjebbes Cases

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords Union citizenship, supranational status, voting rights in the European Parliament elections, dual citizenship, loss of citizenship
Authors Laura Gyeney
AbstractAuthor's information

    Studies on the relationship between EU citizenship and Member State legal orders speak either of the loss of control over national sovereignty or, on the contrary, the judicial deconstruction of Union citizenship. These firm positions on how EU citizenship should be perceived fit well with the two markedly different mindsets represented in legal literature: while representatives of the federalist view envision a politically integrated, supranational community behind the treaty provisions on EU citizenship, sovereignists oppose the extension of EU powers via judicial interpretation tooth and nail. This study aims to find an answer to the question whether the CJEU, in its latest judgments on EU citizenship issues, has succeeded in consolidating the constitutional basis of EU citizenship in a way that is reassuring for Member States, i.e. by respecting the principle of conferral. In this respect, it may be established that in both cases analyzed below, such as the Delvigne and Tjebbes cases, the CJEU made well-balanced decisions keeping EU as well as Member State interests in mind, which, although has brought no substantial progress in the process of recognizing EU citizenship as an autonomous status, makes efforts to consolidate the fundamental characteristic thereof.


Laura Gyeney
Laura Gyeney: associate professor of law, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
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

The European Union and Space

A ‘Star Wars’ Saga?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords EU space competence, EU Space Policy, Galileo, Copernicus, Framework Agreement ESA-EU
Authors Rebecca-Emmanuela Papadopoulou
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article explores the complex relationship between the European Union (EU) and space, alias space’s ever-growing place and role in the EU legal order. Two distinct paths are identified in this respect. On the one hand, as from the mid-1980s and despite the lack of an express ‘space competence’, space policy parameters were introduced in EU acts regulating telecommunications, satellite communications and electronic databases, but only to the extent necessary to serve the functioning of the single market. On the other hand, an autonomous EU Space Policy has been progressively elaborated as from the late 1990s through several initiatives, namely the strengthening of the collaboration with the European Space Agency and the setting up of the Galileo and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES)/Copernicus programmes. This tendency was corroborated by the conferral of an express space competence on the EU by the Lisbon Treaty, whose constitutional and institutional implications are explored in this article. It is submitted that the new space competence shall allow the EU to reach a stage of maturity and claim a greater degree of autonomy at the international level and, at the same time, to project its own governance model, thus enhancing the quality of international cooperation in space.


Rebecca-Emmanuela Papadopoulou
Rebecca-Emmanuela Papadopoulou is Assistant Professor, Law School, NKUA.
Article

The New Regulation Governing AIR, VIR and Consultation

A Further Step Forward Towards ‘Better Regulation’ in Italy

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2019
Keywords regulation, RIA, regulatory impact analysis, impact assessment, evaluation, consultation
Authors Victor Chimienti
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article describes the scope and contents of the newly adopted regulation governing regulatory impact analysis (RIA) and ex post evaluation of regulation (ExPER) in the Italian legal system. The article shows that this regulation has the potential to improve regulatory governance in Italy. Not only does it introduce innovations designed to increase transparency and participation, especially through strengthened consultation and communication mechanisms, but it also aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of regulatory analysis and evaluation activities. How the new regulation will be applied in practice, however, remains to be seen. In the meantime, the new set of rules are a welcome addition to Italy’s Better Regulation policy.


Victor Chimienti
Victor Chimienti is an international and EU lawyer currently working as a free-lance consultant on donor funded projects. In 1997, he graduated in Law with full marks at the University of Bari “Aldo Moro” (Italy), and, in 2006, obtained his Ph.D in International and EU Law from the same university. Meanwhile, he had attended post-graduate legal studies at LUISS University in Rome, Italy, specialising in international and EC business law. Dr. Chimienti has also served as Lecturer in International and Trade Law at the University of Foggia, Italy, and as Research Scholar in International & Comparative Law at the University of Michigan, USA. Among others, he specialises in Better Regulation tools and procedures, such as Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), Ex-Post Evaluation of Legislation, Monitoring, and Public Consultation.

Petra Lea Láncos
Researcher, Deutsches Forschungsinstitut für öffentliche Verwaltung, Speyer; associate professor, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest.
Article

Fiscal Equalization among the Hungarian Local Governments – Autonomy v. Equity

Decision No. 3383/2018. (XII. 14.) AB of the Constitutional Court of Hungary

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords European Charter of Local Self-Government, financial resources of local authorities, fiscal equalization, solidarity levy, Constitutional Court of Hungary
Authors Gábor Kecső
AbstractAuthor's information

    The 2017 budget of Hungary contains a regime on fiscal equalization among local governments that distracts funds from the municipalities with relatively high taxing power within the country. The respective norms were reviewed by the Constitutional Court from the perspective of international law, since Hungary is one of the member parties to the European Charter of Local Self-Government. This note highlights the essence of the abovementioned decision and discusses some underlying issues of allocating public tasks and funds between the governmental layers in a unitary country where the per capita revenue of local taxes is very divergent.


Gábor Kecső
Senior lecturer, ELTE Law School, Budapest; counselor, Constitutional Court of Hungary.
Discussion

Access_open Europe Kidnapped

Spanish Voices on Citizenship and Exile

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2019
Keywords migration, exile, citizenship, Europe, Spanish civil war
Authors Massimo La Torre
AbstractAuthor's information

    Exile and migration are once more central issues in the contemporary European predicament. This short article intends to discuss these questions elaborating on the ideas of two Spanish authors, a novelist, Max Aub, and a philosopher, María Zambrano, both marked by the tragic events of civil war and forced expatriation. Exile and migration in their existential perspective are meant as a prologue to the vindication of citizenship.


Massimo La Torre
Massimo La Torre is Professor of Legal Philosophy, Magna Græcia University of Catanzaro (Italy).
Article

Split Offer and Homogeneous Response in Belgium

The Conceptual and Empirical Limitations of (De)Nationalization

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2019
Keywords (de-)nationalization, voting behaviour, party offer, voter response, methodological nationalism
Authors Luana Russo, Kris Deschouwer and Tom Verthé
AbstractAuthor's information

    By examining the Belgian case, this article aims to show that methodological nationalism is strongly present in the literature on nationalization of party offer and voting behaviour. In nationalization studies, Belgium is often presented as a typical example of a denationalized country. This is true for the party offer, as it is de facto split between the two language groups since the 1980s, and therefore also voter response at the national level. However, voter response within each separate subnational party system is very homogeneous and shows interesting differences between these party systems that inform us about important electoral dynamics. We argue, on the basis of our results, that rather than stretching the concept of nationalization, it is preferable and justified to treat the concepts of nationalization of the party offer and homogenization of voter response as analytically distinct and not as two sides of the same coin.


Luana Russo
Luana Russo, Maastricht University.

Kris Deschouwer
Kris Deschouwer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Tom Verthé
Tom Verthé, Ghent University & Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Article

Fiscal Consolidation in Federal Belgium

Collective Action Problem and Solutions

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2019
Keywords fiscal consolidation, fiscal policy, federalism, intergovernmental relations, High Council of Finance
Authors Johanna Schnabel
AbstractAuthor's information

    Fiscal consolidation confronts federal states with a collective action problem, especially in federations with a tightly coupled fiscal regime such as Belgium. However, the Belgian federation has successfully solved this collective action problem even though it lacks the political institutions that the literature on dynamic federalism has identified as the main mechanisms through which federal states achieve cooperation across levels of government. This article argues that the regionalization of the party system, on the one hand, and the rationalization of the deficit problem by the High Council of Finance, on the other, are crucial to understand how Belgium was able to solve the collective action problem despite its tightly coupled fiscal regime and particularly high levels of deficits and debts. The article thus emphasizes the importance of compromise and consensus in reducing deficits and debts in federal states.


Johanna Schnabel
School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent, Rutherford College, Canterbury CT2 7NX, United Kingdom.
Article

Limited Constitutional Amendment Powers in Austria?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords total revision, amendment, constitutional principles
Authors Manfred Stelzer
AbstractAuthor's information

    In Austria, constitutional amendments can be attained rather easily. A two-thirds majority in parliament allows for engineering constitutional amendments. The Austrian constitution only knows one exception to its flexibility: the principles of the constitution (‘Verfassungsprinzipien’). When the constitutional principles were to be affected by formal amendment in terms of a ‘total revision’ (‘Gesamtänderung’), a higher threshold needs to be met in order to engineer an amendment. In addition to a two-thirds majority in parliament, a referendum is required. Two questions are of particular interest: First, when does a constitutional amendment amount to a total revision and what are its limits? Second, and even more important, which core principles are recognized by the Austrian constitution and what is their content? These questions may be briefly outlined.


Manfred Stelzer
Manfred Stelzer is Professor of Public Law at the University of Vienna.
Article

Access_open Constitutional Norms for All Time?

General Entrenchment Clauses in the History of European Constitutionalism

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords constitutional amendments, constitutional law, constitutional politics, constitutionalism, entrenchment clauses, eternity clauses
Authors Michael Hein
AbstractAuthor's information

    ‘General entrenchment clauses’ are constitutional provisions that make amendments to certain parts of a constitution either more difficult to achieve than ‘normal’ amendments or even impossible, i.e., legally inadmissible. This article examines the origins of these clauses during the American Revolution (1776-77), their migration to the ‘Old World’, and their dissemination and differentiation on the European continent from 1776 until the end of 2015. In particular, the article answers three questions: (1) When, and in which contexts, did general constitutional entrenchment clauses emerge? (2) How have they migrated to and disseminated in Europe? (3) Which constitutional subjects do such clauses protect, and thus, which main functions do they aim to fulfil?


Michael Hein
Adult Education Center Altenburger Land, Altenburg, Germany. Email: mail@michaelhein.de. All cited websites were visited on June 18, 2018. Unless stated otherwise, all references to constitutions in this article are taken from M. Hein, The Constitutional Entrenchment Clauses Dataset, Göttingen 2018, http://data.michaelhein.de. All translations are by the author.
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.
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