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Article

Performing the COVID-19 Crisis in Flemish Populist Radical-Right Discourse

A Case Study of Vlaams Belang’s Coronablunderboek

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords populism, COVID-19, crisis, discourse
Authors Jens Meijen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In June 2020, the Flemish populist radical right party Vlaams Belang (VB) published the Corona Blunder Book (CBB; Coronablunderboek in Dutch), detailing the government’s mistakes in handling the COVID-19 crisis. Populist parties can ‘perform’ crisis by emphasising the mistakes made by opponents (Moffitt, 2015) and may use a specifically populist discursive style, consisting largely of aggressive and sarcastic language (Brubaker, 2017). This paper takes the CBB as a case study in the populist performance of crisis and the populist style, finding that the book is, first, a clear example of populist ‘everyman’ stylistics and the performance of crisis, and, second, that VB uses the book to shift the COVID-19 crisis from a public health crisis to a crisis of governance, seeking to blame Belgium’s federal structure for the government’s alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and hence arguing for Flemish independence, one of the party’s main agenda points.


Jens Meijen
Jens Meijen is a PhD candidate at Leuven International and European Studies (LINES) at KU Leuven. His research focuses on nationalism, populism, and diplomacy.
Article

The Praise for a ‘Caretaker’ Leader

Gendered Press Coverage of Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès in a COVID-19 Context

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 2 2021
Keywords political leadership, crisis, care, Belgium, gendered media coverage
Authors Clémence Deswert
AbstractAuthor's information

    Studies on media coverage of women politicians have underlined how the media contribute to the association of the figure of the political leader with masculinity. Yet, the social construction of leadership seems to evolve towards a more ‘femininity-inclusive’ definition. Research on the ‘glass cliff’ phenomenon suggests that stereotypical feminine attributes might be expected from political leaders in a time of crisis. We investigated the gendered construction of political leadership in the press in a COVID-19 context through the case of former Belgian Prime minister Sophie Wilmès. In line with the ‘think crisis-think female’ association, our discourse analysis shows an appreciation of traditionally feminine traits, and particularly care-related qualities, in the evaluation of what a ‘good’ leader should be in pandemic times, although some characteristics traditionally associated with masculinity are still considered valuable assets in the journalistic portrayal of Wilmès’ leadership.


Clémence Deswert
Clémence Deswert is a PhD candidate at the Political Science Department of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Her research interests include political communication and political representation of women. Declaration of interests: I confirm that this article was not submitted to or publicised in another journal. No conflict of interest exists.
Article

The Impact of VAAs on Vote Switching at the 2019 Belgian Legislative Elections

More Switchers, but Making Their Own Choices

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2021
Keywords voting advice applications, vote switching, vote choice, elections and electoral behaviour, voters/citizens in Belgium, VAA
Authors David Talukder, Laura Uyttendaele, Isaïa Jennart e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    During electoral campaigns, the use of voting advice applications (VAAs) has become increasingly widespread. Consequently, scholars have examined both the patterns of usage and their effects on voting behaviour. However, existing studies lead to conflicting findings. In this article, we take a closer look at the effect of De Stemtest/Test électoral (a VAA developed by academics from the University of Louvain and the University of Antwerp, in partnership with Belgian media partners) on vote switching. More specifically, we divide this latter question into two sub-questions: (1) What is the impact of a (dis)confirming advice from the VAA on vote switching? (2) Do VAA users follow the voting advice provided by the VAA? Our study shows that receiving a disconfirming advice from the VAA increases the probability of users to switch their vote choice.


David Talukder
David Talukder is a PhD candidate at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium). He works within the research project “Reforming Representative Democracy”. His main research interests are democratic innovations, political representation, and democratic reforms.

Laura Uyttendaele
Laura Uyttendaele is a PhD candidate at the University of Louvain (UCLouvain, Belgium). Her main research interests are Voting Advice Applications, Youth & politics, political attitudes and behaviours, and experimental methods.

Isaïa Jennart
Isaïa Jennart is a PhD candidate (Universiteit Antwerpen & VUB, Belgium) interested in public opinion, electoral campaigns, voting behaviour, Voting Advice Applications and political knowledge. He mainly studies citizens’ knowledge of parties’ issue positions.

Benoît Rihoux
Benoît Rihoux is full professor in political science at the University of Louvain (UCLouvain, Belgium). His research covers comparative methods (especially QCA) as well as diverse topics in comparative politics, political organizations and political behaviour.
Article

Access_open An Actor Approach to Mediatization

Linking Politicians’ Media Perceptions, Communication Behaviour and Appearances in the News

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2021
Keywords mediatization, politicians, news media, media perceptions, news management
Authors Pauline Ketelaars and Peter Van Aelst
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the light of the broader debate on the mediatization of politics, this study wants to better understand how the media perceptions and media behaviour of politicians are related to their appearances in the news. We opt for an innovative actor-centred approach to actually measure the views and actions of individual politicians. We combine surveys conducted with 142 Belgian representatives with data on politicians’ external communication behaviour and on their appearances in television news, newspapers and news websites. The results show that media behaviour is not so much related to beliefs of media importance. We do find a significant positive relationship between strategic media behaviour and media attention suggesting that politicians who put in more effort appear more often in various news media. However, this positive relationship depends on the specific form of strategic communication and the political position of the legislator. Our study adds to the mediatization literature by showing how and when politicians are successful in obtaining media attention.


Pauline Ketelaars
Pauline Ketelaars was a postdoctoral researcher of the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO). Her main research interests are political communication and social movements.

Peter Van Aelst
Peter Van Aelst is a research professor at the department of political science at the University of Antwerp and a founding member of the research group ‘Media, Movements and Politics’ (M2P). His research focuses on political communication. Corresponding author: peter.vanaelst@uantwerpen.be.
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

Access_open The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000: Proposals for Legislative Reform to Promote Equality through Schools and the Education System

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords Transformative pedagogy, equality legislation, promotion of equality, law reform, using law to change hearts and minds
Authors Anton Kok, Lwando Xaso, Annalize Steenekamp e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, we focus on how the education system can be used to promote equality in the context of changing people’s hearts and minds – values, morals and mindsets. The duties contained in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000 (‘Equality Act’) bind private and public schools, educators, learners, governing bodies and the state. The Equality Act calls on the state and all persons to promote substantive equality, but the relevant sections in the Equality Act have not been given effect yet, and are therefore currently not enforceable. We set out how the duty to promote equality should be concretised in the Equality Act to inter alia use the education system to promote equality in schools; in other words, how should an enforceable duty to promote equality in schools be fashioned in terms of the Equality Act. Should the relevant sections relating to the promotion of equality come into effect in their current form, enforcement of the promotion of equality will take the form of obliging schools to draft action plans and submit these to the South African Human Rights Commission. We deem this approach inadequate and therefore propose certain amendments to the Equality Act to allow for a more sensible monitoring of schools’ duty to promote equality. We explain how the duty to promote equality should then play out practically in the classroom to facilitate a change in learners’ hearts and minds.


Anton Kok
Anton Kok is Professor of Jurisprudence at the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria.

Lwando Xaso
Lwando Xaso is an independent lawyer, writer and historian.

Annalize Steenekamp
Annalize Steenekamp, LLM, is a Multidisciplinary Human Rights graduate from the University of Pretoria.

Michelle Oelofse
Michelle Oelofse is an Academic associate and LLM candidate at the University of Pretoria.
Article

The ECtHR’s Grand Chamber Judgment in Ilias and Ahmed Versus Hungary: A Practical and Realistic Approach

Can This Paradigm Shift Lead the Reform of the Common European Asylum System?

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords ECHR, Hungarian transit zone, deprivation of liberty, concept of safe third country, Common European Asylum System
Authors Ágnes Töttős
AbstractAuthor's information

    The judgment of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR in Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary reflected a big turn of the ECtHR towards a practical and realistic approach. Although the Grand Chamber found that Hungary by choosing to use inadmissibility grounds and expel the applicants to Serbia failed to carry out a thorough assessment of the Serbian asylum system, including the risk of summary removal, contrary to the Chamber it found that a confinement of 23 days in 2015 did not constitute a de facto deprivation of liberty. This paradigm shift is already visible in further decisions of the Court, and it could even serve as a basis for a new direction when reforming the Common European Asylum System.


Ágnes Töttős
Ágnes Töttős: lecturer, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest; JHA counselor responsible for migration and asylum issues at the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the EU, Brussels.

András Tóth
András Tóth: professor of law, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Budapest; Chairman of the Competition Council, Hungarian Competition Authority.

Albert Dzur
Albert Dzur is Distinguished Research Professor, Departments of Political Science and Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, USA.
Article

The International Trading System and Market Distortions

Revisiting the Need for Competition Rules within the WTO

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2019
Keywords cross-border business activities, developing countries, multilateral competition rules, trade and competition, WTO
Authors Franziska Sucker
AbstractAuthor's information

    As a result of the interconnectedness of the global economy, cross-border activities of economic operators are soaring. Their business practices are not governed by multilateral rules, but merely, if at all, by regional or national laws. As a result, they are potentially subject to over- or under-enforcement and -regulation or to conflicting rules. The resultant legal uncertainties and, therefore, potential lack of discipline for practices facilitates the development of dominant positions and anticompetitive behavior. This advances market distortions to the detriment of diverse offerings and the competitiveness of small market players, especially in economically weak developed countries. Such unfavorable developments could be reduced by preventing market concentration and disciplining anticompetitive behavior. I argue that multilateral rules alone would ensure that cross-border activities of economic operators are subject to uniform rules, irrespective of which country’s or region’s market is affected; and thus, provide legal certainty for current gaps. Moreover, in spite of the resistance of numerous countries to include competition disciplines within the World Trade Organization (WTO), rules aimed at dismantling barriers to trade created by private economic operators are not only theoretically desirable but indispensable in the long term to avoid an erosion of the WTO system by effectively replacing state-created barriers. The increasing role of supply chains and the rising volatility of international commodity prices should give all, albeit particularly the economically weak developed countries, reason to pause and revisit an issue that has significant implications for the competitiveness of their economic operators.


Franziska Sucker
Associate professor, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Article

How to Improve Local Turnout

The Effect of Municipal Efforts to Improve Turnout in Dutch Local Elections

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2019
Keywords turnout, local elections, get out the vote, campaign, the Netherlands
Authors Julien van Ostaaijen, Sabine van Zuydam and Martijn Epskamp
AbstractAuthor's information

    Even though many municipalities use a variety of means to improve turnout in local elections, citizen participation in local elections is a point of concern in many Western countries, including the Netherlands. Our research question is therefore: How effective are municipal efforts to improve turnout in (Dutch) local elections? To this end, we collected data from three sources: (1) a survey sent to the municipal clerks of 389 Dutch municipalities to learn what they do to improve turnout; (2) data from Statistics Netherlands on municipalities’ socio-demographic characteristics; and (3) data on the turnout in local elections from the Dutch Electoral Council database. Using hierarchical multiple regression analysis, we found that the direct impact of local governments’ efforts to improve turnout is low. Nevertheless, some measures seem to be able to make a difference. The relative number of polling stations was especially found to impact turnout.


Julien van Ostaaijen
Julien van Ostaaijen is assistant professor of public administration at the Tilburg Institute of Governance (Tilburg University).

Sabine van Zuydam
Sabine van Zuydam is assistant professor of public administration at the Tilburg Institute of Governance (Tilburg University) and researcher at Necker van Naem.

Martijn Epskamp
Martijn Epskamp is a researcher of the municipality of Rotterdam (Research and Business Intelligence department)

    A recent decision by the Irish Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found that a third level college lecturer had not been discriminated against on the grounds of gender in relation to her pay.


Orla O’Leary
Orla O’Leary is a Senior Associate with Mason Hayes & Curran, www.mhc.ie
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.

    Among the numerous space activities, satellite communications remain the most widespread, essential, and advanced. To perform a communication function, satellites need to be placed in orbit and use the radio-frequency spectrum. Such limited natural resources, which require rational, equitable, efficient, and economical use in an interference-free environment, are managed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
    Before a new satellite or a satellite network is brought into use, the relevant operator carries out coordination with other operators which utilize satellite networks in the adjacent orbital locations. The results of the coordination procedure are then reflected in coordination agreements. Though coordination may last for years, the difficulty is not so much the conclusion of an agreement as its due performance and enforcement.
    Coordination agreements generally contain mutually acceptable technical parameters for the operation of certain frequencies and their breach may cause harmful interference toward communications satellites. At the request of administrations, the ITU carries out investigations of harmful interference and formulates recommendations. Although such a process has a few drawbacks, complete disregard for the content of coordination agreements makes it totally meaningless.
    If the ITU’s recommendations cannot satisfy the parties or are not duly followed, or if damage was caused by harmful interference and requires compensation, a judicial recourse seems inevitable. As disputes may involve parties around the globe, to which court should they apply? Commonly drafted by technical experts, coordination agreements hardly provide for a dispute resolution mechanism or governing law, while the application of general rules may bring parties to an exotic jurisdiction equally irrelevant to both. Whatever court is chosen, the question of specific knowledge arises. However, the ITU’s practice has always been not to get involved in disputes.
    Therefore, disputes related to coordination agreements pose legal challenges. Where to adjudicate the case and what law to apply are just the tip of the iceberg, while the major question of whether there is a need for a specialized court remains significant. This field of space activities apparently requires legal advice.


Elina Morozova
E. Morozova, Head of International Legal Service, Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications.

Yaroslav Vasyanin
Y. Vasyanin, Legal Counsel, International Legal Service, Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications.

Michael Friedl
Michael Friedl is a PhD candidate and research and teaching assistant at the University of Vienna, Austria.

Maximilian Gartner
Maximilian Gartner is a PhD candidate in a joint PhD program at the University of Bologna, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Mykolas Romeris University.
Article

Access_open ‘A Continuous Process of Becoming’: The Relevance of Qualitative Research into the Storylines of Law

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2018
Keywords storylines of law, qualitative research, law in action, law in books
Authors Danielle Antoinette Marguerite Chevalier
AbstractAuthor's information

    The maxim ‘law in books and law in action’ relays an implicit dichotomy, and though the constitutive nature of law is nowadays commonly professed, the reflex remains to use law in books as an autonomous starting point. Law however, it is argued in this article, has a storyline that commences before its institutional formalisation. Law as ‘a continuous process of becoming’ encompasses both law in books and law in action, and law in action encompasses timelines both before and after the formal coming about of law. To fully understand law, it is necessary to understand the entire storyline of law. Qualitative studies in law and society are well equipped to offer valuable insights on the facets of law outside the books. The insights are not additional to doctrinal understanding, but part and parcel of it. To illustrate this, an ethnographic case study of local bylaws regulating an ethnically diverse public space of everyday life is expanded upon. The case study is used to demonstrate the insights qualitative data yields with regard to the dynamics in which law comes about, and how these dynamics continue for law in action after law has made the books. This particular case study moreover exemplifies how law is one of many truths in the context in which it operates, and how formalised law is reflective of the power constellations that have brought it forth.


Danielle Antoinette Marguerite Chevalier
Dr. mr. Danielle Antoinette Marguerite Chevalier, PhD, is assistant professor at Leiden University, The Netherlands.
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.

Lukas van den Berge
Lukas van den Berge is assistant professor of legal theory at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    This article studies five category of malicious cyber activities against space assets in order to assess to what extent the existing international telecommunications law and space law address such activities and identify which rules should be pursued to effectively solve them. Five category of such activities include jamming, hijacking, hacking, spoofing, and robbing the control of telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C) of a satellite (a kind of anti-satellite (ASAT)). Actual incidents are selected for analysis. Those are: (i) jamming: Iranian deliberate harmful interference to the Eutelsat satellites solved in the ITU; (ii) hijacking: a terrorist organization, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hijacking US Intelsat-12 satellite solved by diplomatic negotiation between the Sri Lankan and US Governments using international telecommunications law developed by the ITU and individual national laws; (iii) hacking: alleged Chinese hacking of US NOAA’s information systems; (iv) spoofing: Iranian spoofing of the GPS signals to guide a US/CIA’s RQ-170 UAV into the Iranian territory; and (v) robbing the control of TT&C: alleged Chinese taking control of US remote sensing satellites including Landsat-7 and Terra AM-1. Concluding remarks include: 1) international telecommunications law developed in the ITU can adequately address harmful interference or hijacking as a result of malicious cyber activity as long as that is conducted by a non-State actor; 2) efforts have started in the ITU to strengthen its fact-finding ability in line with the TCBM measures taken in space activities. This orientation may be remembered as a beginning of the new stage that international space law and international telecommunications law would be merged into one field of law: 3) It remains unclear about the implications of an intangible damage occurred to a satellite when its TT&C is robbed of as a result of malicious cyber activity, while it is clear that such an action constitute the violation of the principles of respect for state sovereignty, national jurisdiction and non-intervention. Thus, for promoting peaceful uses of outer space, the elaboration of relevant Articles of the Outer Space Treaty is urgently needed to formulate clear conditions for national space activities.


Setsuko Aoki
Professor of Law, Keio University Law School, Japan, saoki@ls.keio.ac.jp.

Franciska Takó-Bencze
Trainee judge at the Budapest-Capital Regional Court.

Sándor Takó
Visiting lecturer of Pazmany Peter Catholic University at the Department of Private Law as well as at the Budapest Metropolitan University.
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