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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.
Article

Emotions and Vote Choice

An Analysis of the 2019 Belgian Elections

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

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


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

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

Between Party Democracy and Citizen Democracy

Explaining Attitudes of Flemish Local Chairs Towards Democratic Innovations

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

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


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

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

Min Reuchamps
Min Reuchamps is Professor of Political science at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain). His teaching and research interests are federalism and multilevel governance, democracy and its different dimensions, relations between language(s) and politics and, in particular, the role of metaphors, as well as participatory and deliberative methods.

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

‘From decline to revival? An analysis of party membership fluctuations in Western Europe (1990-2014)’

PhD by Vivien Sierens (Université libre de Bruxelles) supervisors: Emilie van Haute, Silvia Erzeel

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2020
Authors Audrey Vandeleene
Author's information

Audrey Vandeleene
Audrey Vandeleene is BOF postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University and member of GASPAR (Ghent Association for the Study of Parties and Representation).
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

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.
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

The Sovereign Strikes Back

A Judicial Perspective on Multi-Layered Constitutionalism in Europe

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2018
Keywords Constitutional identity, constitutionalism, fragmentation, globalization, multilayered constitution, sovereignty, trust
Authors Renáta Uitz and András Sajó
AbstractAuthor's information

    The supranational web of public law is often described as a new constitutionalism. It emerged in a globalized world together with global markets. In the course of the multilayered constitutional experiment, the old, national constitutional framework had lost its ability to deliver on the key features associated with constitutionalism: limiting the exercise of political powers and preventing the arbitrary exercise thereof. In the multilayered era it has become difficult to pinpoint the centre of authority. Ultimately, someone needs to govern, if not for other reasons, at least to avoid chaos. Is it possible to have the guarantees of freedom, rule of law and efficiency that a constitutional democracy seems to provide in a system where there is no sovereign with authority?


Renáta Uitz
Renáta Uitz is Professor, Chair of the Comparative Constitutional Law Program, Department of Legal Studies, Central European University, Budapest.

András Sajó
András Sajo is University Professor, Central European University, Budapest. This volume (The EU Bill of Rights’ Diagonal Application to Member States. Ed. Csongor István Nagy) was published as part of the research project of the HAS-Szeged Federal Markets ‘Momentum’ Research Group.
Article

Access_open The Application of European Constitutional Values in EU Member States

The Case of the Fundamental Law of Hungary

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2018
Keywords Article 2 and 7 TEU, democratic backsliding, Hungary, infringement procedure, rule-of-law mechanism
Authors Gábor Halmai
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article deals with the backsliding of liberal democracy in Hungary, after 2010, and also with the ways in which the European Union (EU) has coped with the deviations from the shared values of rule of law and democracy in one of its Member States. The article argues that during the fight over the compliance with the core values of the EU pronounced in Article 2 TEU with the Hungarian government, the EU institutions so far have proven incapable of enforcing compliance, which has considerably undermined not only the legitimacy of the Commission but also that of the entire rule-of-law oversight.


Gábor Halmai
Professor and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, European University Institute, Department of Law, Florence. This volume (The EU Bill of Rights’ Diagonal Application to Member States. Ed. Csongor István Nagy) was published as part of the research project of the HAS-Szeged Federal Markets ‘Momentum’ Research Group.

Niels Spierings
Niels Spierings is als universitair docent sociologie verbonden aan de Radboud Universiteit, Radboud Social Cultural Sciences. Binnen de gender- en politieke sociologie richten zijn onderzoek en publicaties zich op populisme, sociale media, democratisering, sociale houdingen, emancipatie, migratie en islam. Zijn geografische focus omvat Nederland in vergelijkend Europees perspectief en het Midden-Oosten en Noord-Afrika. Ook publiceert hij over methoden in gender- en intersectioneel onderzoek.
Research Note

Wie steunt populisme en waarom?

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 2016
Authors Bram Spruyt, Gil Keppens and Filip Van Droogenbroeck
Author's information

Bram Spruyt
Bram Spruyt is docent Sociologie aan de Vrije Universiteit Brussel en lid van de onderzoeksgroep TOR. Zijn onderzoek richt zich op de studie van sociopolitieke opvattingen en de onderwijssociologie.

Gil Keppens
Gil Keppens is doctoraatsstudent aan de Vrije Universiteit Brussel en lid van de onderzoeksgroep TOR.

Filip Van Droogenbroeck
Filip Van Droogenbroeck is postdoctoraal onderzoeker aan de Vrije Universiteit Brussel en lid van de onderzoeksgroep TOR.
Research Note

Hoe populistisch is het volk?

Journal Res Publica, Issue 2 2015
Authors Agnes Akkerman, Cas Mudde and Andrej Zaslove
Author's information

Agnes Akkerman
Agnes Akkerman is James Coleman hoogleraar Duurzame coöperatie in de arbeidsverhoudingen aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen en tevens als universitair hoofddocent verbonden aan de afdeling Sociologie van de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Zij onderzoekt de effecten van veranderingen in arbeidsrelaties en conflicten daarbij.

Cas Mudde
Cas Mudde is universitair hoofddocent verbonden aan de School of Public and International Affairs van de University of Georgia in de Verenigde Staten. Zijn onderzoekexpertise omvat Europese politiek, extreem-rechtse politiek in Europa en Noord Amerika, euroscepticisme, populisme en politiek protest.

Andrej Zaslove
Andrej Zaslove is universitair docent Vergelijkende Politiek en verbonden aan het Institute for Management Research van de Radboud Universiteit. Kernthema’s van zijn onderzoek zijn politiek partijen, populisme, en immigratie.
Discussion

Access_open ‘Nothing Spells Freedom Like a Hooters Meal’

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2012
Keywords Enlightenment universalism, self-governance, freedom, moral point of view, political participation
Authors Ronald Tinnevelt
AbstractAuthor's information

    Winter’s criticism of the conventional account of freedom and democracy is best understood against the background of the history of Enlightenment critique. Winter claims that our current misunderstanding of freedom and self-governance is the result of the strict dichotomy between subject and object. This paper critically reconstructs Winter’s notion of freedom and self-governance which does not adequately address (a) the details of his anti-collectivist claim, and (b) the necessary conditions for the possibility of a moral point of view. This makes it difficult to determine how Winter can distinguish between freedom and lack of freedom, and to assess the limited or radical nature of his critique of Enlightenment universalism.


Ronald Tinnevelt
Ronald Tinnevelt is Associate Professor Philosophy of Law at Radboud University, Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open ‘Down Freedom’s Main Line’

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 3 2012
Keywords democracy, radical freedom, free market economy, consumerism, collective action
Authors Steven L. Winter
AbstractAuthor's information

    Two waves of democratization define the post-Cold War era of globalization. The first one saw democracies emerge in post-communist countries and post-Apartheid South Africa. The current wave began with the uprisings in the Middle East. The first focused on the formal institutions of the market and the liberal state, the second is participatory and rooted in collective action. The individualistic conception of freedom and democracy that underlies the first wave is false and fetishistic. The second wave shows democracy’s moral appeal is the commitment to equal participation in determining the terms and conditions of social life. Freedom, thus, requires collective action under conditions of equality, mutual recognition, and respect.


Steven L. Winter
Steven L. Winter is Walter S. Gibbs Professor of Constitutional Law at Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, Michigan.

Sergio Fabbrini
Professor of Political Science at the University of Trento (Italy) where he directs the School of International Studies, and the editor of the Italian Journal of Political Science. Address: University of Trento, School of International Studies, via Verdi 8/10, I-38100 Trento, Italy, Sergio.Fabbrini@sis.unitn.it.
Article

Negatieve verkiezingscampagnes en de gevolgen op kiesintenties

De Vlaamse regionale verkiezingen van juni 2009

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 2010
Keywords negative campaigning, Flemish regional elections 2009, voter preferences
Authors Ruth Dassonneville
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article we address two questions considering the Flemish regional elections of June 2009. First we determine whether this campaign can be called a negative campaign and what amount of negativity it contained. Second, we want to know what the consequences of negativity were on voter preferences. Our research, based on a newspaper analysis, shows that the campaign contained an average amount of negative campaign messages compared to campaigns in other political systems (United States, the Netherlands and Denmark). We calculated effects on voter preferences by means of the PartiRep Belgian Voter Survey of 2009, a survey with a unique three wave panel design. The results demonstrate that negative campaigning seems to have been effective in 2009. Parties with negative campaigns attracted more attention from voters and also seemed to gain during the campaign. Personal attacks on opponents, on the other hand, did not have an effect on the electoral appeal of a party. Incumbent parties even lost votes when they launched personal attacks. The results suggest that, in the Flemish context, an attack on the opponent’s program or governmental record can be effective, but that personal attacks are not rewarded by the voters.


Ruth Dassonneville
Ruth Dassonneville (1987) behaalde een master in de geschiedenis en een master in de vergelijkende en internationale politiek aan de KULeuven. Ze schreef een masterproef over negatieve campagnes met een focus op de Vlaamse verkiezingen van juni 2009. Zij is nu als wetenschappelijk medewerkster verbonden aan het Centrum voor Politicologie van de KULeuven.
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