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Research Note

Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Reduce Attention to Environmental Issues?

A Panel Study Among Parents in Belgium, 2019-2020

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2022
Keywords issue competition, COVID-19 pandemic, panel study, environmental concern, Belgium
Authors Sari Verachtert, Dieter Stiers and Marc Hooghe
AbstractAuthor's information

    Theories on issue competition assume that there is only a limited number of issues that a person prioritises simultaneously. In this research note, we test this mechanism by using a panel study that was conducted among Belgian parents in 2019 and 2020. Between the two observations of the study, the country suffered a severe health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We investigate whether this crisis reduced the priority of environmental issues among respondents. Our results show that there was indeed a significant decline of some indicators for environmental concern, but not for others. Furthermore, we show that a higher priority for the health-related and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with a steeper decline in environmental concern.


Sari Verachtert
Sari Verachtert is a PhD student at the Centre for Political Science at the University of Leuven. Her research focuses mainly on attitudes and behaviours towards sustainable development.

Dieter Stiers
Dieter Stiers is post-doctoral researcher of FWO Vlaanderen at the Centre for Political Science Research at KU Leuven. His research focuses on elections and voting behaviour.

Marc Hooghe
Marc Hooghe is a Full Professor of Political Science at the University of Leuven. He has written mostly about political participation and political trust.

Tim Chapman
Tim Chapman is an independent researcher and trainer and chair of the European Forum for Restorative Justice since 2016. Corresponding author: Tim Chapman at info@timchapman.eu.

Robi Damelin
Robi Damelin is an Israeli active member of the Parents Circle-Families Forum, for which she acts as spokesperson and Director of International Relations. Detailed information and updates about the projects, events and activities mentioned in this Notes from the Field can be found at the Forum’s official website: www.theparentscircle.org. Contact author: Robi Damelin at damelin@zahav.net.il.
Research Note

Peer Assessment in Parliament

Promises and Pitfalls of a Marginalised Method in Parliamentary Research

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 3 2021
Authors Richard Schobess
AbstractAuthor's information

    Peer assessment is a rather marginalised method in political research. This research note argues that the collective expertise of MPs can complement other data to contribute to more comprehensive evaluations of MPs’ parliamentary work. Yet, this method is potentially flawed by low survey participation and rater bias among MPs. The experience with a peer assessment survey among members of three Belgian parliaments shows that participation does not necessarily need to be problematic. However, the empirical analysis suggests that scholars should control for various forms of rater bias.


Richard Schobess
Richard Schobess is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political Science of Ghent University. His research focuses on parliaments and elections.

Jessica Goldberg
Jessica Goldberg is the Training Institute Manager, Longmont Community Justice Partnership, Longmont, Colorado, USA.

Dana Henderson
Dana Henderson is the Director of Community Programs, Longmont Community Justice Partnership, Longmont, Colorado, USA. Contact author: jessica@lcjp.org.

Ian D. Marder
Ian D. Marder is a Lecturer in Criminology in the Department of Law at Maynooth University, Ireland.

Meredith Rossner
Meredith Rossner is a Professor of Criminology at the Centre for Social Research and Methods at Australia National University, Australia. Contact author: Ian.Marder@mu.ie.
Research Note

Caretaker Cabinets in Belgium

A New Measurement and Typology

Journal Politics of the Low Countries, Issue 1 2021
Keywords caretaker government, Belgium, cabinets, political crisis
Authors Régis Dandoy and Lorenzo Terrière
AbstractAuthor's information

    Belgium is probably the world’s best known case of where caretaker governments reside. Yet a clear scholarly definition and measurement of this concept is missing. Based on a detailed analysis of the Belgian federal cabinets, this research note explores the main characteristics and measures the length of the various caretaker periods. We find that Belgium was governed for no less than 1,485 days by a caretaker government between 2007 and 2020, which equals more than four full calendar years. This research note also presents a novel typology of caretaker periods based on the institutional and political practice within the Belgian legislative and executive branches. This typology can be used to assess caretaker periods at other levels of government as well as in other countries in order to improve our understanding of the many ‘faces’ that a caretaker government can take on.


Régis Dandoy
Régis Dandoy is professor in political science at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador and visiting research fellow and guest lecturer at the University of Brussels, Belgium. His main research interests include comparative politics, federalism, voting behaviour, election results, electronic and internet voting and election observation.

Lorenzo Terrière
Lorenzo Terrière is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at Ghent University. His doctoral research is focused on how (regionalist) parties deal with the strategic issue of government participation.

Jordi Recorda Cos
Jordi Recordà Cos is a co-director at INSTA Environmental Law Consulting, La Canonja, Spain, environmental engineer with a French public administration, and facilitator of restorative circles. Contact author: jrecorda@instajuridic.com.

Lawrence Kershen
Lawrence Kershen QC is a mediator and restorative justice facilitator in London, United Kingdom. Contact author: kershen@europe.com.

Petronella Maria Boonen
Petronella M. Boonen is the Coordinator of restorative justice projects for the Center for Human Rights and Education (www.cdhep.org.br), São Paulo, Brazil. Contact author: pmboonen@gmail.com.

Mark Walters
Mark Walters is Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. Contact author: Mark.Walters@sussex.ac.uk.

Christa Pelikan
Christa Pelikan is a senior researcher and senior consultant with the Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology in Vienna, Austria, she has been a founding member of the European Forum for Restorative Justice. Contact author: christa.pelikan@irks.at.

Gerd Delattre
Gerd Delattre was head of the TOA-Servicebureau by DBH e. V. in Cologne/Germany for over 20 years. He is considered a pioneer of victim-offender mediation in Germany.

Christoph Willms
Christoph Willms is assistant to the head of the TOA-Servicebureau by DBH e. V. Contact authors: gerd@delattre.de, christophwillms@web.de.

Aleksandar Marsavelski
Aleksandar Marsavelski is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia.

Ali Gohar
Ali Gohar is the founder of Just Peace Initiatives, UK and Pakistan (http://www.justpeaceintl.org).

Jo-Anne Wemmers
Jo-Anne Wemmers is a Full Professor at the School of Criminology, Université de Montréal (Canada) and Researcher at the International Centre for Comparative Criminology, Montréal, Canada.

Marian Liebmann
Marian Liebmann, PhD, is an independent restorative justice practitioner, trainer and consultant. She is the former director of Mediation UK.

Chris Straker
Chris Straker is a director, trainer and consultant at Restorative Thinking Ltd. (www.restorativethinking.co.uk) and a freelance restorative trainer registered with the Restorative Justice Council, UK.

Grazia Mannozzi
Grazia Mannozzi is professor of Criminal Law and of Restorative Justice at the University of Insubria, Como, Italy.

Lies Van Cleynenbreugel
Lies Van Cleynenbreugel is an action researcher at the Leuven Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven, Belgium and in charge of the project ‘Leuven Restorative Cities’; she is also a restorative justice practitioner in the NGO Alba.
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