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    «Without a theory of corruption there cannot be a remedy for corruption unless by happy accident» (J.Q. Wilson). There are empirical theories, such as the functional approach of the political process, but how useful they may be, they essentially fall short. One needs a normative, i.e. an ethical theory of political action. After having evaluated the idea, that politicians and rulers have the right to make use of violence, lies and ruses in order to combat violence and ruse within the community, the article draws some important conclusions from the general democratic principle «no power without control and possibility of sanction by those being subject to that power». Applied to the problem of corruption, this principle can be used as a guideline for a systematic exploration of the structural sources of corruption, defined in a general way as abuse of power («détournement de pouvoir»). The main thesis reads as follows. The sources of corruption are to be found in those «deficiencies of the system» that create chances for a particular pressure of power to exert an overweight - without possibilities of control and sanction - in the processes of actual definition of the «public interest» or the «common good». An elaboration of the thesis is made by means of an analysis of this kind of «deficiencies» in the Belgian political-administrative system, most of them however not specific for the Belgian situation in particular. Finally, some suggestions for «remedies » against corruption are made, especially in the field of legislative measures.

Bertrand J. De Clercq

    Some French infiuences have to be found to explain how the two functions (legislative and control over the Cabinet) of the Standing Committees of the Belgian House of Representatives have evolved. In 1920, when the first Standing Committees system was introduced in the Belgian House of Representatives, a direct French contribution can already be noticed. As a matter of fact, the Speaker of the Committee of Parliamentary Procedures derives his report directly from one made a few months earlier by Joseph Barthélémy for the French House of Representatives. Again in 1935, the first total revision of the entire rules of procedure of the House of Representatives shows the ideal of some French statemen (Poincaré, Tardieu, Blum) to struggle against the assembly system withthe result of a limitation in the functions of the Standing Committees down to its legislative part. These functions were not altered during the second revision in 1962, but some sort of diffused control over theCabinet was still exerted. In 1979, this control was finally formalised.

Claude Courtoy

US "Human Rights" Policy

an appraisal

Journal Res Publica, Issue 4 1980
Authors Koenraad Lenaerts

    In the wake of the 1980 CSCE follow-up meeting US human rights objectives should be defined contextually so as to include besides the traditional human rights ingredients, i.e. the right to personal integrity, civil and political liberties, such values as peace, national security, nuclear non-proliferation, economie growth and redistribution. To this effect, the US should stress more a proper «world order» as its ultimate policy goal. Doing so would provide it at once with the flexibility needed in the international forum and with the credibility needed on the domestic scene, in order to achieve some visible results. A high-pitched declaratory policy in favor of human rights leads to ineffectiveness with Communist nations and to arbitrary pressures on authoritarian countries which somehow rely on US assistance. Thus, the US should proceed contextually on the basis of a more balanced «human rights» concept.

Koenraad Lenaerts

    The lists of candidates, proposed by the parties for the Belgian general elections, is quite determinative. Due to electoral code arrangements, and, notwithstanding the growing proportion of preference votes, only thosecandidates who are placed within the «necessary sequence» of the lists (i.e. the number of seats a party gains in a definite arrondissement) get actually elected. Consequently, the Belgian voter does not appointthe mandataries, hut only the number of mandates due to the several parties. The statutes of the three major Belgian parties (christian democrats, socialists and liberals) , provide large participative opportunities for their members, through the so-called general member polls. In this kind ofprimary system, all party members are franchised to elect the candidates for their party-lists. The elections of the past twenty years show a growing tendency to deviate from these statutary guaranteed participation. In 1958, 89 % of all representatives were placed on their party-lists by general member polls; in 1978, only 10 %. Thus, the conclusive phase of the composition of the partylists has become, since 1958, increasingly a matter where only the national or federal party executives and councils decide upon.

Lieven De Winter

La réforme régionale italienne

Un bilan à l'occasion des élections régionales des 8 et 9 juin 1980

Journal Res Publica, Issue 4 1980
Authors Catherine Guillermet and Johan Ryngaert

    Ten years after they were set up, the Italian regions have fallen into general discredit. They are discredited by the central government who regards them as a source of support for the opposing Communist Party and has sought to undermine this reform by depriving the regions of all true autonomy. The regions are discredited by the public opinion by not fulfilling the expectations placed in them. Such an assessment does not stand up to a close examination of regional practices: some geographical differences rapidly become obvious, but especially evident are the political differences. In fact, the regions are the product of an apparent agreement between the political parties and have always suffered from political bargaining which explains the national scale of the issues raised at the last elections. Strengthened by the favorable results obtained in certain regions, the Communist Party was quick to turn this statement of the electoral opinion into a « referendum » about the newly formed Cossiga government.

Catherine Guillermet

Johan Ryngaert

Editor Res Publica

    The conference committee is one of the most important joint committees in het American Congress, appointed to reconcile differences between bills adopted in the two houses of Congress in different forms. Each house is authorized to call for a conference. Usually, only the most important bills are submitted to a conference committee, and minor bills wilt be adopted by concessions of one of the houses. Each house commits his conferees, and can give them instructions on how to vote. These instructions however are not imperative. The number of conferees in each delegation is not necessarily equal, but each delegation votes as a unit and in the way determined by the majority in the delegation. The committee only is allowed to examine the matters in disagreement and cannot add any new provisions to the bills. When an agreement is reached a conference report is written and signed by the majority of the conferees in each delegation, after which it is sent back to the houses for approval. The bill as modified by the conference committee can be adopted or rejected, in which case a second conference can be asked for. No amendments are allowed. The conference committee, sometimes called the «Third House of Congress» not only has become a very powerful institution but also a necessary one. It is responsible for about one third of the legislation including the most important bills. Its necessity is confirmed by its two century-existence, and the fact that it has been copied in other federal states such as the Federal Republic of Germany and Switzerland.

Guy Tillekaerts


seize ans d'expérience pluraliste

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 1980
Authors Pierre Lefevre

    With its sixteen years, experience of pluralism, the FDF appears to represent a new type of political party in Belgian politics. Owing to the multiplicity of its origins the federalist party of Brussels was obliged in an initial stage to reconcile manifold philosophical, ideological and political tendencies; in later years it has succeeding in giving an even more concrete contents to this pluralism. lt now consciously tends to make this pluralism a political advantage in its competition with the traditional parties. Both the evolution and the structure of the party were strongly determined by this specific characteristic.

Pierre Lefevre

Jozef Smits

De regeringsvorming Martens I

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 1980
Authors Luk Holvoet and Marc Platel

    The first months of political life in Belgium in 1979 were essentially characterized by the great difficulties encoutered in the formation of a new cabinet. In 1979 Belgium lived its longest cabinet crisis in its history. As usual, the process of cabinet formation started with the nomination of an «informateur», followed by that of a «formateur». However, formateur Wilfried Martens did not succeed in forming a cabinet: oppositions on issues and strategies between the parties proved to a high to be surmounted. The King there upon introduced an innovation: he designated two «mediators». These, however, also failed to find some ground for agreement. Eventually, after elaborate informal contacts, the resigning Prime-Minister, Paul Vanden Boeynants, was nominated as formateur. After a month of laborious negotiations he successfully completed his mission. However, he preferred to leave the post of Prime-Minister of the new five party cabinet to Mr. Martens, till then president of the FlemishChristian-Democrats.

Luk Holvoet

Marc Platel

Bilan Belgisch buitenlands beleid 1979

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 1980
Authors Paul Van De Meerssche

    Normally the Belgian foreign policy is not an explosive matter for public debate. However during 1979 the attitude and decisions of Minister Simonet concerning the Nato-demands for production and installation of 464 Cruise- and 108 Pershing-missiles were strongly criticized. Mainly his socialist friends of the «Socialistische Partij» (Simonet belongs to the «Parti Socialiste»), the «Volksunie» and also important pressure groups as «Pax Christi» disapproved the positive attitude of Minister Simonet vis-à-vis the Nato-demands. A climax was reacted during a protest-meeting in the streets of Brussels on December 9, 1979 and during the debate in the Belgian Parliament (Chambre of Representatives). It resulted in a declaration by the Belgian Prime Minister Martens on December 12, who agreed that the Belgian Government should ask for a delay of 6 months. Among other items of Belgian foreign policy examined in this article one can notice the evolution of the position of the Belgian Government in European Affairs and in the Middle East problems. Finally, the author broadens his survey to the more fundamental question of the meaning of the foreign policy of small countries.

Paul Van De Meerssche

    This article describes the facts and events that led to the linguistic splitting of the former Belgian Socialist Party into two independent and autonomous political parties: the French speaking Parti Socialiste (PS) and the Dutch speaking Socialistische Partij (SP). Reference is made to unpublished documents and interviews with persons concerned.

Jan Ceuleers

Les relations belgo-zaïroises

Réflexion sur une pratique de la politique étrangère

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 1980
Authors Jean-Claude Willame

    In reviewing the Belgian policy towards Zaïre for the last two decades, one is struck by a certain politica! as well as economic withdrawal which has become more obvious since the end of the sixties. In the context of the «Mobutu Plan», the Marshall Plan for Zaïre, or in that of the two Shaba upheavals, Belgium, unlike France with respect to its former colonies, has choosen to align itself with big powers policies and international organizations, and to avoid taking too strong stands in the rather confuse situation which prevails in Zaïre today. Although unanimity does no langer exist among the various Belgian pressures groups about what is tobe done in Zaïre, the official policy of the government is entrenched in a «wait and see» attitude which points to the deepening contradictions within Western states towards Africa in general and Zaïre in particular.

Jean-Claude Willame

Bibliographie de l'année politique 1979

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 1980
Authors Wladimir S. Plavsic

Wladimir S. Plavsic

Mark Deweerdt

Editor Res Publica

Le parlement européen

Comparaison des résultats de juin 1979 et portrait de l'Assemblée élue

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 1980
Authors Dusan Sidjanski

    The results of the first European elections reflect the general distribution of the European electorate slightly center-right oriented, even if the abstentionism of almost 40 % caused some distorsions as in the case of United Kingdom. After the comparison of the results, state by state, it appears globally that the socialists ( 113) and liberals (40) regressed, the gaullists and their allies (22) suffered a serious defeat, white the christian democrats ( 107) and the communists (44) progressed and some minor parties (leftists and regionalists) entered the European Parliament. The second part contains a portrait of the new European Parliament which is younger than its predecessor, has more women including its president and has many high personnalities. As in the past, the political groupsplay a central and dynamic role. The question is to know if they will be capable of maintaining their cohesion. The examined cases give no evidence of the existence of the center-right majority in front of the left opposition. In fact, there were changing coalitions and voting constellations according to different problems, ideological options or concrete choices. The recent vote rejecting the proposed budget expresses a will of the European Parliament to impose its style and its democratic control on the European Community.

Dusan Sidjanski

De Volksunie 1977-1979

Toch uit de oppositie. Een vergissing of niet?

Journal Res Publica, Issue 3 1980
Authors Marc Deweerdt

    The activities within and around the Volksunie get much media attention compared with other parties. The top politicians of the Volksunie such as former president Schiltz have more influence than their colleagues. It was Schiltz that niade his party enter the government. His opinion was that every political party must try to achieve that goal. It is not so sure that the traditional Belgian political families are willing to accept new partners. Apart from that it is possible that the Belgian, electorate wants some parties to remain in the opposition. As far as the Volksunie is concerned the policy of Mr. Schiltz has been rejected by the electorate.

Marc Deweerdt

    The hypothesis to explain the often puzzling variability of political language in Parliament is that phenotypical elements of political speech such as emotionality, hostility, and oratorical style can be explained by structuralelements, that is by various aspects of the issues under debate. The data led us to criticize the more common cultural hypothesis, which would explain the variations of political language by linking it to the political culture of the members of parliament. As a result the evolutionof political language would be a global one, appearing in all policy domains. This was by no means the case. The evolution of political language between 1950 and 1970 is on the contrary a strongly differentiated one. The structural hypothesis performs much better both for the short- and for the medium-term variations. The expression of hostility during parliamentary debates can be explained satisfactorily by the stakes of the game. The expression of emotion seems to stem both from these stakes and from the level of aggregation of the issue. Finally, various aspects of oratorical style, such as the invocation of values, the principled motivation of proposals and the deductive logic used to legitimize the position taken, all seem to be derived from the level of aggregation and, most of the time, from the ideological contents of the issue as well. As a result we get a profile of political language which is rather tightly controlled by the opportunities and the necessities of the political agenda and much less by all kinds of extraneous factors.

Guido Dierickx

Het stemgedrag in het parlement

Onderzoek in de Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers voor de periode 1954-1965

Journal Res Publica, Issue 1-2 1980
Authors Etienne Langerwerf

    This article covers the voting behaviow- of the three major belgian parties: CVP (christian democrats), BSP (socialists) and PVV (liberals) during three legislatures (from 1954 to 1965) in which all three partieswere twice in government and once in the opposition. The cohesion between the government parties bas been very high. This is also the case within each party. Deviations from the so-called «partyline» are minimal, especially within the socialist party. Looking at the final votes, two voting patterns dominate: government versus opposition and unanimity. All amendments, except those introduced by the government, were rejected. The major conclusion is that the role of the public session of the House is reduced to a mere registration function.

Etienne Langerwerf
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