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Article

Political Sophistication and Populist Party Support

The Case of PTB-PVDA and VB in the 2019 Belgian Elections

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Keywords populist voters, political sophistication, voting motivations, Belgium, elections
Authors Marta Gallina, Pierre Baudewyns and Jonas Lefevere
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, we investigate the moderating role of political sophistication on the vote for populist parties in Belgium. Building on the literature about the diverse determinants of populist party support, we investigate whether issue considerations and populism-related motivations play a bigger role in the electoral calculus of politically sophisticated voters.
    Using data from the 2019 general elections in Belgium, we focus on the cases of Vlaams Belang (VB) and Parti du Travail de Belgique- Partij van de Arbeid (PTB-PVDA). We find evidence suggesting that political sophistication enhances the impact of populism-related motivations on populist party support, although the effects are contingent on the party. Moreover, we show that, for issue considerations, the moderation effect only comes into play for VB voters: the impact of anti-immigrant considerations is greater at increasing levels of political sophistication.


Marta Gallina
Marta Gallina is a PhD Student at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She obtained her BA and MA in Social Sciences at the University of Milan. Her research interests regard the study of political behaviour, political sophistication, issue dimensionality, populism and Voting Advice Applications. Her work appeared in scientific journals such as Statistics, Politics and Policy, Environmental Politics and Italian Political Science.

Pierre Baudewyns
Pierre Baudewyns is Professor of political behaviour at UCLouvain. He is involved in different projects (voters, candidates) related to National Election Study. Results of his research have been published in Electoral Studies, European Political Science, Regional & Federal Studies, West European Politics and Comparative European Politics.

Jonas Lefevere
Jonas Lefevere is research professor of political communication at the Institute for European Studies and assistant professor of communication at Vesalius College. Since 2018, he is also vice-chair of the ECPR Standing Group on Political Communication. His research interests deal with the communication strategies of political parties, and the effects of election campaigns on voters’ electoral behaviour. He has published on these topics in, amongst others, Electoral Studies, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication and International Journal of Public Opinion Research.
Article

Drivers of Support for the Populist Radical Left and Populist Radical Right in Belgium

An Analysis of the VB and the PVDA-PTB Vote at the 2019 Elections

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Keywords populism, voting, behaviour, Belgium, elections
Authors Ine Goovaerts, Anna Kern, Emilie van Haute e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    This study investigates how protest attitudes and ideological considerations affected the 2019 election results in Belgium, and particularly the vote for the radical right-wing populist party Vlaams Belang (VB) and for the radical left-wing populist party Partij van de Arbeid-Parti du Travail de Belgique (PVDA-PTB). Our results confirm that both protest attitudes and ideological considerations play a role to distinguish radical populist voters from mainstream party voters in general. However, when opposed to their second-best choice, we show that particularly protest attitudes matter. Moreover, in comparing radical right- and left-wing populist voters, the article disentangles the respective weight of these drivers on the two ends of the political spectrum. Being able to portray itself as an alternative to mainstream can give these parties an edge among a certain category of voters, albeit this position is also difficult to hold in the long run.


Ine Goovaerts
Ine Goovaerts is a Doctoral Candidate of the Democratic Innovations and Legitimacy Research Group at the University of Leuven. Her research focuses on the quality of political discourse, with a specific focus on incivility and argumentation quality.

Anna Kern
Anna Kern is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science of Ghent University. Her research focuses on political participation, political equality and political legitimacy. Her work has been published in journals such as West European Politics, Local Government Studies, Social Science Research and Political Behavior.

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.

Sofie Marien
Sofie Marien is Associate Professor at the University of Leuven, where she is director of the Democratic Innovations and Legitimacy Research Group. Her research has appeared in journals such as Political Behavior, European Journal of Political Research, European Sociological Review and Political Research Quarterly.
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.
Editorial

Explaining Vote Choice in the 2019 Belgian Elections

Democratic, Populist and Emotional Drivers

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2020
Authors Patrick van Erkel, Anna Kern and Guillaume Petit
Author's information

Patrick van Erkel
Patrick van Erkel is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Political Science of the University of Antwerp, where he is connected to the research group M2P (Media, Movements and Politics). His research interests include electoral behaviour, public opinion, political communication and polarization. He has published in journals such as the European Journal of Political Research, Electoral Studies, European Political Science Review and Political Communication.

Anna Kern
Anna Kern is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science of Ghent University. Her research focuses on political participation, political equality and political legitimacy. Her work has been published in journals such as West European Politics, Local Government Studies, Social Science Research and Political Behavior.

Guillaume Petit
Guillaume Petit is a researcher in political science. His research focuses on democratic innovations and social inequalities facing political participation. He obtained his PhD at the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne. He has been affiliated with the department of political science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels and with the Institute of Political Science Louvain-Europe (Ispole) at UCLouvain as a postdoctoral researcher, within the EoS-RepResent project that led to the present special issue.
Annual lecture

Access_open The indecent demands of accountability: trauma, marginalisation, and moral agency in youth restorative conferencing

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Restorative justice, youth offenders, trauma, marginalisation, offender accountability
Authors William R. Wood
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article I explore the concept of accountability for young people in youth restorative conferencing. Definitions of accountability in research and programme literature demonstrate significant variation between expectations of young people to admit harms, make amends, address the causes of their offending, and desist from future offending. Such variation is problematic in terms of aligning conferencing goals with accountability expectations. I first draw from research that suggests appeals to normative frameworks such as accountability may not be useful for some young people with significant histories of victimisation, abuse, neglect, and trauma. I then examine problems in accountability for young people that are highly marginalised or ‘redundant’ in terms of systemic exclusion from economic and social forms of capital. These two issues – trauma on the micro level and social marginalisation on the macro level – suggest problems of getting to accountability for some young people. I also argue trauma and social marginalisation present specific problems for thinking about young offenders as ‘moral subjects’ and conferencing as an effective mechanism of moralising social control. I conclude by suggesting a clear distinction between accountability and responsibility is necessary to disentangle the conflation of misdeeds from the acute social, psychological, and developmental needs of some young offenders.


William R. Wood
William R. Wood is a Senior Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. The manuscript is a revision of the author’s presentation of the Annual Lecture for the International Journal of Restorative Justice, Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference (ANZSOC), Perth, Australia, 14 December 2019. Contact author: w.wood@griffith.edu.au.
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 Online First 2020
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, Departement Politieke Wetenschappen, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgium.

Jan Beyers
Jan Beyers, Departement Politieke Wetenschappen, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgium.

Frederik Heylen
Frederik Heylen, Departement Politieke Wetenschappen, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgium.
Article

Access_open Liberal Democracy and the Judeo-Christian Tradition

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 1 2020
Keywords national identity, historical narratives, universal values, equal citizenship
Authors Tamar de Waal
AbstractAuthor's information

    Increasingly often, it is stated that the universal values underpinning Western liberal democracies are a product of a ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition. This article explores the legitimacy of this claim from the perspective of liberal-democratic theory. It argues that state-endorsed claims about the historical roots of liberal-democratic values are problematic (1) if they are promoted as though they are above democratic scrutiny and (2) if they insinuate that citizens who belong to a particular (majority) culture remain the ‘cultural owners’ of the core values underpinning the state. More pragmatically, the paper suggests that the claim carries the risk of failing to facilitate all citizens becoming or remaining committed to nurturing fundamental rights and a shared society based on norms of democratic equality.


Tamar de Waal
Tamar de Waal is assistant professor of legal philosophy at the Amsterdam Law School of the University of Amsterdam.
Article

Populism as a Visual Communication Style

An Exploratory Study of Populist Image Usage of Flemish Block/Interest in Belgium (1991-2018)

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2020
Keywords Populism, image use, visual style, campaign, posters, visual, Flanders, populist right, Belgium
Authors Kevin Straetemans
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article analyses the visual communication of the Flemish populist right-wing party Vlaams Blok/Vlaams Belang, and investigates whether or not the party uses a specific populist communication style in its campaign posters, whether or not its visual style evolves over time and how the party distinguishes itself from other (right-wing) parties in its use of images. To do this, the image use will be compared with the CVP/CD&V and the Volksunie/N-VA. This use of images will be investigated by analysing election posters from 1991 to 2018. The analysis shows that there is indeed a ‘populist visual style’. These items consist mainly of (negative) metaphors, false dilemmas, caricatures and the use of so-called ‘agonic’ visual techniques.


Kevin Straetemans
Kevin Straetemans attained a Master’s degree in Political Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2018. He is currently pursuing an Educational Master in Social Sciences at the same university. His research interests are political parties, elections, extremism, propaganda and political communication.

Sanja Ćopić
Sanja Ćopić is a Senior Research Associate, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research and Victimology Society of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia.
PhD Review

‘Figurative Framing in Political Discourse’

PhD by Amber Boeynaems (Vrije Universtiteit Amsterdam), supervisors: Elly Konijn, Gerard Steen & Christian Burgers.

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2019
Authors Christ’l De Landtsheer
Author's information

Christ’l De Landtsheer
Political Communication Research Unit, University of Antwerp.
Article

Access_open What Is Left of the Radical Right?

The Economic Agenda of the Dutch Freedom Party 2006-2017

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2019
Keywords radical right-wing populist parties, economic policies, welfare chauvinism, populism, deserving poor
Authors Simon Otjes
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines the economic agenda of the Dutch Freedom Party. It finds that this party mixes left-wing and right-wing policy positions. This inconsistency can be understood through the group-based account of Ennser-Jedenastik (2016), which proposes that the welfare state agenda of radical right-wing populist parties can be understood in terms of populism, nativism and authoritarianism. Each of these elements is linked to a particular economic policy: economic nativism, which sees the economic interest of natives and foreigners as opposed; economic populism, which seeks to limit economic privileges for the elite; and economic authoritarianism, which sees the interests of deserving and undeserving poor as opposed. By using these different oppositions, radical right-wing populist parties can reconcile left-wing and right-wing positions.


Simon Otjes
Assistant professor of political science at Leiden University and researcher at the Documentation Centre Dutch Political Parties of Groningen University.
Article

Constitutional Resilience and Unamendability

Amendment Powers as Mechanisms of Constitutional Resilience

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords constitutional change, constitutional resilience, unamendability, constitutional identity
Authors Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article aims to explore the relationship between unamendability and constitutional resilience. Inspired by Roznai’s theory on the limits of amendment powers, this article seeks to examine how such limits may function as a mechanism of constitutional resilience exploring how unamendability may impact the resilience of a constitution, allowing it to withstand crises while retaining its core functions. The key question is whether entrenchment enhances resilience through its protective shield or, by contrast, fetters resilience by foreclosing adaptability – what does not bend often breaks. The complex relationship between unamendability and constitutional resilience unfolds in the context of different amendment patterns.


Xenophon Contiades
Xenophon Contiades is Professor of Public Law, Panteion University; Managing Director of the Centre for European Constitutional Law, Athens, Greece.

Alkmene Fotiadou
Alkmene Fotiadou is Research Fellow, Centre for European Constitutional Law.
Article

The Eternity Clause

Lessons from the Czech Example

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords eternity clause, constitutional amendment, Czech Republic
Authors Ondřej Preuss
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents lessons from the Czech example of the so-called Eternity Clause’ i.e. a legal standard declaring certain principles, values or specific constitutional provisions to be unalterable and irrevocable. The Eternity Clause is viewed and applied in the Czech Republic as a substantive legal ‘instrument’ that enables society to preserve its values. It is used to limit practical ‘power’ and to maintain desired values and the political system.
    That the Eternity clause is a practical instrument has already been proved by the Czech Constitutional Court in its famous ‘Melcák’ decision. However, recent developments show that the Czech Constitutional Court is no longer open to such a ‘radical’ approach. Nonetheless, it still seems that the court is prepared to defend the values of liberal democracy, just not in such a spectacular way. It is, therefore, more up to the political actors or the people themselves to use Eternity Clause arguments to protect liberal democracy and its values.


Ondřej Preuss
Faculty of Law, Charles University (preuss@prf.cuni.cz). This article was written under the “Progress 04: Law in a Transforming World” programme.
Article

Constitutional Unamendability in the Nordic Countries

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords the Nordic constitutions, constitutional unamendability, explicit limits, implicit limits, supra-constitutional limits, review of constitutional amendments
Authors Tuomas Ojanen
AbstractAuthor's information

    With the exception of the Constitution of Norway, the Constitutions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden are silent on any substantive limits to the power of constitutional amendment. Until now, the topic of constitutional unamendability has also attracted very little attention in Nordic constitutional scholarship.
    However, some idiosyncrasies making up the identity of the Nordic constitutions, as well as constitutional limits to Nordic participation in European integration, may implicate the existence of some implicit limits to amendment powers. Similarly, international human rights obligations binding upon the Nordic countries, as well as European Union law and European Economic Area law, may impose some external, supra-constitutional limitations on the powers of Nordic constitutional amenders. However, the existence of any implicit or supra-constitutional unamendability is speculative in the current state of evolution of Nordic constitutionalism. This is even more so since the use of constitutional amendment powers are beyond judicial review by the Nordic courts.


Tuomas Ojanen
Tuomas Ojanen is Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Helsinki, contact: tuomas.ojanen@helsinki.fi.

Lech Garlicki
Lech Garlicki is a Former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights and a Professor of constitutional law at the University of Warsaw.

Yaniv Roznai
Yaniv Roznai is Senior Lecturer, Harry Radzyner Law School, IDC Herzliya.
Article

Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in Turkey

The Question of Unamendability

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords judicial review of constitutional amendments, constitutional unamendability, judicial activism, competitive authoritarianism, abusive constitutionalism
Authors Ergun Özbudun
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article deals with the judicial review of constitutional amendments, which has been a hotly debated constitutional and political issue in Turkey, particularly with regard to the unamendable provisions of the constitution. Since its creation by the Constitution of 1961, the Turkish Constitutional Court has followed a markedly activist and tutelarist approach regarding this issue and annulled several constitutional amendments arguing that they violated the unamendable provisions of the Constitution. Recently, however, the Court adopted a self-restraining approach. This shift can be explained as part of the political regime’s drift towards competitive authoritarianism and the governing party’s (AKP) capturing almost total control over the entire judiciary.


Ergun Özbudun
Ergun Özbudun is Professor of Constitutional Law at İstanbul Şehir University. This is an enlarged and updated version of my article ‘Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in Turkey’, European Public Law, Vol. 15, No. 4, 2009, pp. 533-538.
Article

Transitional Constitutional Unamendability?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords transitional constitutionalism, constitutional unamendability, decline of constitutional democracy, constitution-making in Hungary, the Hungarian Constitutional Court
Authors Gábor Halmai
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article discusses the pros and cons for a suggestion to use unamendable provisions in transitional constitutions to protect the integrity and identity of constitutions drafted after a democratic transition. The presumption for such a suggestion could be that most democratic constitution-making processes are elite-driven exercises in countries with no or very little constitutional culture. The article tries to answer the question, whether in such situations unamendable constitutional provisions can help to entrench basic principles and values of constitutionalism with the help of constitutional courts reviewing amendments aimed at violating the core of constitutionalism. The article investigates the experiences of some backsliding constitutional democracies, especially Hungary, and raises the question, whether unamendable constitutional provision could have prevented the decline of constitutionalism.
    In order to discuss the issue of transitional unamendability, the article engages in the scholarly discussion on transitional constitutionalism in general, and deals with the relationship of constitutional law and constitutional culture. Another side topic of the article is whether such transitional unamendability provisions should also contain international or transnational values and principles, and what happens if those are not in conformity with the unamendable provisions that serve to build up a national constitutional identity. Again, the example of Hungary can be important here, how national constitutional identity protected by the Constitutional Court can serve to abandon the European constitutional whole.


Gábor Halmai
Gábor Halmai is Professor and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, European University Institute, Florence; email: gabor.halmai@eui.eu.
Article

Consensus Democracy and Bureaucracy in the Low Countries

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

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


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

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

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

Gerrit Dijkstra
Gerrit Dijkstra, Senior Lecturer, Leiden University.

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

Jennifer J. Llewellyn
Jennifer J. Llewellyn is the Yogis and Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law and Professor of Law at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.

Brenda Morrison
Brenda Morrison is Associate Professor of Criminology and Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada. Contact author: jennifer.llewellyn@dal.ca. Disclosure Statement: There are no financial conflicts of interest. The authors would like to thank Krystal Glowatski, PhD candidate and research assistant, for proofreading and helping with referencing many of the papers in this Special Issue.
Article

The European Court of Human Rights and the Central and Eastern European States

Journal East European Yearbook on Human Rights, Issue 1 2018
Keywords Case law regarding Central and Eastern Europe, ECHR, human rights, reform, European system of Human Rights
Authors András Baka
AbstractAuthor's information

    At the time of its creation and during the following 30 years, the European Court of Human Rights was a Western European institution. It was not until the sweeping political changes in 1989-1990 that the Central and Eastern European countries could join the European system of individual human rights protection. The massive and relatively rapid movement of accession of the ‘new states’ to the European Convention on Human Rights had a twofold effect. On the one hand it led to a complete reform of the human rights machinery of the Council of Europe, changing the structure and the procedure. A new, permanent and more efficient system emerged. What is even more important, the Court has had to deal with not only the traditional questions of individual human rights but under the Convention new issues were coming to the Court from applicants of the former eastern-bloc countries. On the other hand, being part of the European human rights mechanism, these countries got a chance to establish or re-establish the rule of law, they got support, legal standards and guidance on how to respect and protect individual human rights. The article addresses some of these elements. It also points out that public hopes and expectations towards the Court – especially nowadays in respect of certain countries – are sometimes too high. The Court has its limits. It has been designed to remedy certain individual injustices of democratic states following common values but cannot alone substitute seriously weakened democratic statehood.


András Baka
Former judge of the ECtHR (1991-2008); former president of the Hungarian Supreme Court.
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