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 The Political System in Belgium
The Political System in Belgium
 The political system in Belgium
The political system in Belgium
 The political system in Belgium
The political system in Belgium
 The political system in Belgium
The political system in Belgium
 The political system in Belgium
The political system in Belgium
 The political system in Belgium
The political system in Belgium
 The political system in Belgium
The political system in Belgium
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Unit 4 Women in politics
Sources
Sources

: The Political System in Belgium . : Cooperativa Cramars. : The Political System in Belgium .ppt. zip-: 577 .

The Political System in Belgium

The Political System in Belgium .ppt
1  The Political System in Belgium

The Political System in Belgium

RoSa Documentation Centre and Archive for Equal Opportunities, Feminism and Womens Studies

2  The political system in Belgium

The political system in Belgium

Table of contents Unit 1 Historical overview - Introduction - The Kingdom of Belgium: short historical overview Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state - The language laws - The state reforms Unit 3 Belgium after twenty five years of state reforms - The levels of decision-making powers and their competencies National Regional Provincial Commmunal - Flanders within federal Belgium Unit 4 Women in politics - Why more women in politics? - Towards a parity democracy - Features of the Belgian electoral system - Features of an ideal electoral system - Safe seats and combative seats - Changes in the electoral law - Consequences for female representation Sources

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3  The political system in Belgium

The political system in Belgium

Introduction Some elementary knowledge of history is vital to understand which political forces are taking effect today or where the complicated structure of the actual Belgian government comes from. Between the creation of Belgium and the present government structures there was a long growth process. By gaining independence in 1830, Belgium became a unitary state with a simple structure. Now the country is run by various bodies which discharge their allotted duties autonomously. In order to understand why the state reform in Belgium took place the way it did, two historical components are important: The history of the Belgian language policy and the community discrepancies between the Flemings and the Walloons; The Belgian socio-economical history with the development of the industrial bourgeois society in the Walloon provinces as opposed to Flanders which remained an agrarian society up to the 20th century.

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4  The political system in Belgium

The political system in Belgium

Unit 1 Historical overview Origin In 1830 Belgium gains independence. A year later, Leopold von Saxen-Coburg, a German nobleman, is sworn in as monarch of the Kingdom of Belgium. The new state had almost four million inhabitants. The northern part, Flanders, was inhabited by 2.200.000 Flemings, the southern part, the Walloon provinces, by 1.700.000 Walloons. The economical, political and financial elite, including the Flemish, used French as the official language. Dutch (in fact a motley collection of Flemish dialects) continued to exist as everyday language in Flanders. The Belgian territory is situated on the fault line between the Germanic and the Latin world. Its exactly those discrepancies in language and culture between both parts of the country that originated the state reform.

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5  The political system in Belgium

The political system in Belgium

Unit 1 Historical overview Economy From the start Belgium performed very well economically. Belgium was, after England, the first nation where industrial capitalism flourished. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Belgium belonged to the world leaders in industries such as glass, textile and steel. Not all Belgians equally enjoyed the ensuing prosperity. Low wages, long working hours and bad working conditions were part of the labourers life. Whereas Flanders mainly stayed an agricultural and poor society, steel and coal industry flourished in the prosperous Walloon provinces.

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6  The political system in Belgium

The political system in Belgium

Unit 1 Historical overview Language Dutch was the majority of the Belgian populations native language. Nevertheless, it was banned from government, jurisdiction, education, commerce and industry, also in Flanders. Linguistic and cultural discrimination also implied economical discrimination. The Flemish Movement joined battle with the discriminatory position of the Dutch language and of the Flemish people in Belgium. The original aim of the Flemish Movement was to enforce upon the whole of Belgium a bilingualism of Dutch and French. This appeared to be impossible. That is why Flemings started to work hard to completely dutchify the Flemish territory. That process was wound up more or less in 1968. Brussels remained bilingual.

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7  The political system in Belgium

The political system in Belgium

Unit 1 Historical overview Discrepancies After the second world war, more and more Belgians on both sides of the language barrier started to realise that the differences between the northern and the southern part of the country had grown too big. People became convinced that it would be advantageous for both regions to have more competencies of their own and to leave less to the central Belgian government. As from the sixties of the 20th century, Flanders outperformed the Walloon provinces economically. Until then, it had always been the opposite. Now both parts of the country wanted more autonomy: the Flemish wanted cultural autonomy, the Walloons wanted to pull through economically by applying their own methods At the same time, the Belgian demographic development tipped the balance permanently in favour of the Flemish population (56 % in 1971). Politically and ideologically there was a yawning gap. In the Walloon provinces the socialist party managed to expand its power, in Flanders it was the catholic centre party which had power. The glaring contrast between the anticlerical Walloon provinces and the catholic Flanders intensified the Walloons fear for a Belgian country dominated by the Flemish. All those facts created a consensus on both sides of the language barrier to reform Belgium from a unitarian into a federal state.

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8 Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Language laws Hertoginnedal The Louvain Issue An important step in the Belgian state reform was the language laws. They were voted between 1873 and 1963. Those laws regulated that French, Dutch and German were reckognized as official languages in Belgium. They also laid down rules for the use of those languages. The language barrier (1962) After two big marches on Brussels, organized by militant Flemings, the Government Lef?vre-Spaak decided upon the demarcation of the language barrier and the bilingual territory of Brussels. By doing so, they hoped to take the wind out of the federalists sails. From that moment Belgium had four regions: Dutch-speaking regions: Flanders French-speaking regions: the Walloon provinces German-speaking regions: 9 municipalities in the south-east: the East Cantons Bilingual Dutch-French-speaking region: Brussels-Capital

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9 Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Language laws Hertoginnedal The Louvain Issue Hertoginnedal (1963) Some mixed municipalities such as Voeren and Komen were granted allowances: the linguistic minority was allowed to use its own language at the counter in local government offices or in relations with the authorities. The language agreement of Hertoginnedal (1963) granting some concessions to the Flemish was disregarded whenever possible by the radical Francophones in Brussels. The Louvain Issue (1968) Meanwhile the Louvain university had become the scene of a fierce language conflict. From 1966 till 1969 Flemish students protested massively against the French-speaking Belgian episcopacy who wanted to expand in Flemish territory. For fear of the region to become frenchified, the Flemish Movement joined in the protest. The university got split up in a French-speaking (Louvain-la-Neuve) and a Dutch-speaking (K.U. Leuven) institution.

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10 Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

The state reform in four steps The language laws alone did not reform the state. The Constitution, being the foundation of polity, also needed to be reviewed. At the start of the negotiations preparing the actual state reform of 1970, both the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking Belgians had prepared their list of demands. The Flemish insisted on cultural autonomy, the Walloons demanded more economical independence. The latter also wanted to be safeguarded against political marginalization due to their demographic minority position. 1970 The first state reform 1980 The second state reform 1988 The third state reform 1993 The fourth state reform

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11 Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

1970 The first state reform Cultural communities Communities are population groups. With the constitutional revision of 1970, three cultural communities were created: a Flemish, a French and a German-speaking community. All three cultural communities have a proper parliament. This is when the state reform process gets started. The cultural communities acquire a certain autonomy with respect to language and culture, although limited: only part of the competencies related to education, for instance, are transferred to the communities. Regions Regions refer to parts of soil. In 1970 Belgium is divided into three Regions: the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. The splitting-up in regions reflects the wish for more economic autonomy expressed by the French-speaking Belgians: Walloons and French-speaking inhabitants of Brussels. As for the demarcation of the territory and the competencies of the Regions they didnt reach an agreement at that time. But the forming of the Regions clearly was the starting point of economical decentralisation. Guarantees In 1970 a number of constitutional guarantees were inserted with a view to protecting the outnumbered French-speaking population in Belgium. Thus the national parliament was divided into language groups. The voting of new laws touching the Belgians fundamental rights, needed a two third majority as well as an ordinary majority in both language groups. At the same time the Constitution regulated that the Belgian government should be composed of an equal number of Walloon and Flemish Ministers, exclusive of the Prime Minister.

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12 Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

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1980 The second state reform The work is continued. The cultural Communities of 1970 simply become Communities. The Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community all have a Council, which is their Parliament, and a government. Apart from culture, the Communities become competent to deal with matters relating to the people who make up the communities, such as health care and welfare. The Regions are competent to deal with territorial matters such as town planning, the environment, regional economical development and employment policy. Two Regions are created in 1980 : the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. These also have a Council and a Government. Flanders merges those institutions immediately: for both the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region there is one Government and one Council. The formation of the Brussels Region is put off.

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13 Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

1980 The second state reform The French-speaking inhabitants did not merge the institutions of the French Community and the Walloon Region. The francophone inhabitants of Brussels didnt want that. They insisted on being independent from the Walloons because there are a lot more French-speaking than Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Brussels. The German-speaking Community got a Culture Council in 1970. Now it adds advisory power in personal affairs to its competencies. For regional affairs the East Cantons remain under the Walloon Region. In 1980 Belgium had a national Government and a national Parliament, a Flemish Government and a Flemish Council, a French Community Government and a French Community Council, a Walloon Regional Government and a Walloon Regional Council and a German Culture Council. In 1984 the Court of Arbitration is created to solve competency conflicts between the federal state of Belgium and its parts. The Court consists of 50% magistrates and 50% former political figures. It has two language groups. Its judgements get an absolute authority.

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14 Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

1988 The third state reform The extension of competencies in 1988 is impressive. Environment, nature conservation, town planning, economy, energy, transport, employment, municipalities and provinces, scientific research and public works are withdrawn from the power of the unitarian state and shifted to the Regions. The Communities obtain education, language legislation, culture and matters relating to people. Financing of Regions and Communities is regulated. They no longer depend on donations from the national government. Now they can count on a fixed share of the federal taxes. And what about Brussels ? Brussels becomes a full Region with a proper Parliament and proper a Government, with guaranteed representation of the Dutch-speaking numerical minority. The Flemings want to keep the link with the Flemish inhabitants of Brussels. That is why the Flemish Region choses Brussels as its capital, whereas the Walloon Region choses Namur. The official name for Brussels is Brussels-Capital Region.

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15 Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

Unit 2 Belgium: from a unitarian to a federal state (1970 1993)

1993 The fourth state reform When the federal members of parliament ratify the Saint-Michaels agreement, Belgium becomes a full federal state. On the 14th of July 1993, the first article of the Constitution is modified into : Belgium is a federal State, composed of the Communities and the Regions. The direct election of the regional parliaments becomes possible. The federal Parliament and the Community and Regional Councils are mutually autonomous. Homogeneous packages of competencies polish the sharp edges of the former state reforms.

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16 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Introduction Governing the unitarian state was more than often balancing on the tight-rope. Every measure in favour of Flanders had to be countered by a measure favouring the Walloon provinces or the other way round. This policy of the wafer iron spoiled billions and harmed the quality of government. The new federal structure removed the fuse out of the powder keg in many community difficulties since the Regions and Communities could make independent decisions. In principle that should result in a more efficient government. The areas make their own laws over a number of specific matters and control their execution. Yet they have no proper constitution. The federal Parliament decides on any adaptation of community and regional structures.

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17 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

No hierarchy of laws The decrees of the communities and regions are legally equivalent to the federal laws, whereas in most other federal states there is an agreement over hierarchy. Thus, a federal law can never rescind a decree of the Flemish Parliament. That system of equivalent laws is rather rare. That remarkable difference has an historical explanation. In Belgium, the regions had developped from a central state, whereas most other federal states were composed of former independent areas. In order to avoid confusion: Flemish and Walloon laws are called decrees, laws of the Brussels-Capital Region are called ordinances. The federal government just calls them laws.

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18 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The different policy levels in Belgium: an overview Policy level Territory Legislative Executive Body Body Europe 25 Member States Parliament Commission Council of Ministers Council of Ministers Federal Belgium Federal parliament Federal government Communities Flanders (Flemish Flemish Council Flemish government Community) Walloon provinces French Community French Community (French Community) Council Government 9 East Cantons German-speaking German-speaking (German-speakng Community Council Community Government Community) Regions Flemish Region Flemish Parliament Flemish government Walloon Region Walloon Parliament Walloon Regional government Brussels-Capital Brussels-Capital Government of the Brussels- Region Council Capital Region Provincial 10 provinces Provincial Council Permanent Deputation Municipal 589 municipalities City Council Mayor and the Bench of Aldermen

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19 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Competencies of the federal authorities The federal authorities are competent for: Defence the army and all related matters. Justice jurisdiction and the organisation of the judiciary remain a federal affair. Social security health insurance, unemployment regulations, pensions, social benefits. Home affairs supervision on police forces, enforcement of order, public security, assistance (civil protection). Foreign affairs development co-operation, foreign policy, coordination of foreign trade. Apart from that, the federal authorities remain competent for a number of fields in which an independent course persued by the Regions would endanger the economical and monetairy unity of Belgium: Monetary policy Tax policiy Price- and income policy Right of competition Commercial and company law Labour law

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20 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Competencies of the Flemish authorities The Flemish Government exercises its competencies in all Flemish provinces. Flemish decrees about culture, education, health care and public welfare also apply to Brussels, that is for the Dutch-speaking institutions only. Public welfare: family policy, welfare policy, migrants and refugee centres, senior citizens policy, disabled persons policy, youth protection. Culture: language, art, cultural heritage, museums, libraries, public radio and television, youth policy, support to the written press, sports and open-air recreation, permanent education, artistic education, social promotion, tourism. Economy: economic policy, exploitation of mineral resources, investment support, business support, economic state initiatives, foreign trade (in cooperation with the federal government). Energy: distribution of electricity and natural gas, promotion of rational energy use, exploitation of new sources of energy. Nuclear energy remains a federal competency. Financial policy: Flanders has a high degree of financial autonomy and is fully competent and responsible for its own expenditure. Moreover, Flanders levies its own taxes, such as registration fees, inheritance tax, real estate tax, road tax, etc. Municipalities and provinces: full organisation of domestic administration, such as the composition, organisation and operation of provincial and municipal institutions, municipal and provincial financing, organisation and exercise of administrative supervision of local authorities (with the exception of the police and the fire service), the municipal and provincial electoral legislation.

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21 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Competencies of the Flemish authorities Health care: support and quality control of hospitals, preventive health care, home care, nursing homes for senior citizens, mental health care. The federal government remains competent for hospital legislation, medication legislation and health insurance. Housing: construction of social housing, allocation of housing premiums. International co-operation: including the conclusion of treaties in all areas of Flemish jurisdiction. Agriculture and Horticulture: full agricultural policy including sea fishing, scientific agricultural research, agricultural investment fund, promotion of agricultural and horticultural products, quality control. Land planning and nature conservation: land consolidation of farmland, nature conservancy, planning and management of greenbelts and parks, forestry, hunting and fishing, unnavigable watercourses and polders. Environment: environmental protection against sound pollution and soil, water, and air pollution, waste policy, supervision of hazardous, unhealthy and polluting industries. Education: design and subsidising of education, from nursery school to university education. The federal government remains competent for teachers pensions, compulsory education and determining minimum requirements for graduation.

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22 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

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Competencies of the Flemish authorities Development and co-operation: since 2004 Flanders acquired more competencies in this field. Public Works and Traffic: construction and maintenance of roads (including verges, bridges, viaducts, cycle tracks, lights), the seaports (including locks, flood-control dams, dockyards, quays, embankments), navigable waters and regional airports, public city- and regional transport. Town and Country Planning: drafting of town and country plans, creation of industrial zones, urban renewal, protection of monuments and landscapes, construction permits. Language Legislation: supervision of the use of language in government affairs, education and labour relations. The federal government remains competent for the language legislation in Brussels-Capital. Water Policy: production and distribution of potable water, waste water purification, sewage systems. Employment: job placement, special employment programmes, basisc training and in-service training, employment of foreign workers. Scientific Research: full scientific research with regard to all Flemish decisionmaking areas.

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23 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The 10 provinces and their competencies Flanders and the Walloon provinces each count five provinces. Flanders consists of Antwerp, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Limburg and West Flanders. The Walloon provinces are Hainaut, Li?ge, Luxembourg, Namur and Walloon Brabant. The nine communes of the German-speaking Community are situated in the Li?ge territory. Brussels doesnt belong to any province. The provinces competencies are limited. Provinces are competent for their own education and road system and for the issuance and follow-up of contingency plans. The Association of Flemish Provinces (VVP) is the pressure group supporting provincial policy officials, through a study service and study groups preparing the definition of positions, negotiating and liasing with other administrations and organisations.

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24 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

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The communes and their competencies The smallest policy units are the communes. Belgium has 589 communes, of which 309 are in Flanders. Communes, Public Welfare Centres, police force zones and intermunicipal associations together form the local government. Their competencies are situated in the field of health and welfare, housing, economy, registry of birth, death and marriages and population, culture and education, environment and nature, environmental planning, traffic, order and security. Local administrations cooperate with the Flemish and the federal government and with the provinces. To do their job, they need information, advice and consultation. They are assisted by the Association of Flemish Cities and Communes (VVSG).

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Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Association of Flemish Cities and Communes (VVSG) The VVSG is the representative membership organisation of all Flemish communes (308), the Public Welfare Centres (308) and about fifty intermunicipal associations. The VVSG labours for political mandataries as well as for civil servants. From policy preparation and advice to protection of interests Staff members give advice to cities, communes and Public Welfare Centres about legal, administrative, financial and human resources problems or about matters concerning environment, culture, welfare, local economy and Europe. They work on the preparation of viewpoints, development of opinions and follow-up of policy files. The Association defends the interests of local administrations by means of lobbying, consultations at ministerial cabinets, contacts with the Flemish and federal government, European institutions, hearings etc. Information and training Publications: Lokaal, the e-zine VVSG-week, the VVSG-website, sectoral electronic magazines (environment, mobility, culture, police, senior citizens care) and the VVSG-Politeia-bookfund (www.politeia.be). A Training Centre for Public Welfare Centre staff . A Congress Centre The database Inforum offers legal information electronically to cities, communes and Public Welfare Centres. The data are brought up to date on a daily basis.

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26 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Flanders in the federal state of Belgium The federal structure did not end the community difficulties in Belgium. There are a number of mechanisms acting as shock absorber whenever difficulties arise. The federal structure itself is not final. There is still a strong unitarian tendency across the language borders and within different political parties. There are still tensions between unionists and groups striving for more autonomy, the field of social security and health care for one. More compromises will probably have to be reached in the future.

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27 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish Government: internal matters Introduction The Flemish authorities are constituted of the Flemish Parliament, together with the Flemish Government, the Ministry of the Flemish Community and the Flemish public institutions. Snap elections are impossible for the Flemish Parliament, because Parliament can in no way be dissolved before legislature is expired. Legislature is the term members of parliament have been elected for. For that reason the Flemish Parliament is called a legislature parliament. Flemish representatives of the people are allowed to send home ministers who do not perform satisfactorily by means of a constructive motion of no-confidence. At the same time they put forward a new minister. If you as a citizen have objections against a decision of the Flemish Parliament, you can write to the Speaker of the Flemish Parliament, 1011 Brussels. Your letter will be treated in the Petition Committee.

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Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish Government: internal matters Direct elections As from the 1995 elections, members of the Flemish Parliament are elected directly. Before that, Flemings from the federal parliament sat in the Flemish Council. The Flemish Parliament counts 124 members. The inhabitants of the Flemish Region directly elect 118 members. The other 6 are Flemings from the Brussels-Capital Council who are elected directly by the inhabitants of the Brussels-Capital Region. Those 6 Brussels council members defent the communal interests of the Flemish inhabitants of Brussels. They may only vote over community matters.

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29 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish Government: internal matters Better governmental policy The Flemish Government is working on a large renovation project with a view to creating a more transparent and more efficient government administration. The basic principles of the project have been anchored in three decrees: a Framework decree Administrative Policy establishing an organisation model and laying down the tasks for the Flemish Administration; an Accountancy decree fixing all financial matters: budget, bookkeeping, subsidies control and audits by the Auditors Office; a Framework decree Advisory systems.

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30 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish Government: internal matters Better governmental policy What we remember in particular is that later on there will be ten policy fields: The Services of the Minister-President Foreign Policy and International Co-operation Sciences and Technological innovation Administrative matters Finances and Budget Education and training Well-being and Public Health Culture, Youth, Sports and Media Economy, Employment and Tourism Agriculture and Fishery

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31 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish Government: internal matters Better governmental policy Within each policy field there exists: a Flemish Ministry, composed of a department and one or more internal self-sufficient agencies (IVAs); Possibly one or more external self-sufficient agencies (EVAs); a policy council. The departement has policy supporting tasks. The self-sufficient agencies perform policy executive tasks. Agencies are established if: there is a sufficient quantity of executory tasks; Products/services are measurable; Self-sufficiency is justified. You will find all details on Better Governmental Policy on the Dutch-language website: http://www2.vlaanderen.be/ned/sites/bbb/new/

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Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish Government: internal matters The Flemish ombud service You dont know which Service or Institution to turn to with your question? Are you treated unseemly by a civil servant or a Flemish government service? Is a procedure lasting too long or has there been taken an unjust decision? Call for information or lodge a complaint with: The Flemish Ombud Service Hertogstraat 67-71, 2nd floor 1000 Brussels Phone: 02/552.98.98 E-mail: ombudsdienst@vlaamsparlement.be

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Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish Government: internal matters The Flemish Public Institutions When executing government policy, not only the Ministry of the Flemish Community is involved. Specialized tasks are entrusted to the Flemish public institutions. The best known are: VRT the Flemish Radio and Television Broadcasting De Lijn the Flemish passenger transport company Kind & Gezin child & family care OVAM Public Waste Matter Company for the Flemish Region VDAB the Flemish Service for Labour Mediation and Vocational Training For a full list of Flemish public institutions (in Dutch), click here. Contrary to the Ministry, the Flemish public institutions are widely self-sufficient. Yet they are under the supervision of a Flemish minister and are financed with government money. If you want to learn more, our source (in Dutch) is: http://www2.vlaanderen.be/ned/sites/overheid/verder/n_2_3.htm

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34 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish Government: internal matters The Flemish governments money Refunds Refunds are federal money part of which is refunded to the regions: income tax, VAT, The percentage is fixed by the Finance Law which also stipulates that the regions have to pay up part of the public debt. Proper taxes The Flemish government also feeds its purse with taxes of its own, such as environment levy, real estate advance levy, death duty and registration fee. Loans The raising and contracting of loans is limited, in order to keep interest burden under control. If you want to learn more, our source (in Dutch) is: http://www2.vlaanderen.be/ned/sites/overheid/verder/n_2_3.htm

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35 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

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The Flemish government and the outside world Consultations and cooperation agreements Flanders has to confer and come to terms with the federal government and with the other Regions and Communities in matters crossing regional borders. The Consultation committee plays a central part in both procedures. The arbitrators: In competence conflicts: The Council of State goes into competence conflicts about texts of law. Its advice is not legally binding. The Court of Arbitration is entitled to cancel a law or a decree. It is a special court of law which gives a verdict on the correct application of the distribution of competences. No appeal is possible against its judgements. In conflicts of interest: Here we may be dealing with, for instance, economical interests. In the case of a conflict of interest, the aggrieved authority can call in the Consultation Committee which attempts to negotiate and arbitrate. If it concerns a conflict of interest between regional parliaments, the Senate may be called in for advice. The Senate can only achieve results if political goodwill is present on both sides.

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36 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish government and the outside world Flanders international Flanders obtained the right of treaties. Since 1993 the Flemish government may conclude legally binding treaties with a partner abroad on all matters belonging to the Flemish competencies. One example is the Water Treaties between Flanders and the Netherlands from 1995. Commerce Since 1993 the Flemish authorities define their own international commerce policy. In order to execute that policy, a service called Export Vlaanderen was set up. The service has about eighty Flemish economical representatives all over the world. They promote Flemish products and explore export possibilities for Flemish enterprises. Language and culture Flanders concluded cooperation agreements with, among others, countries in Central and Eastern Europe and with South-Africa in the field of culture and education.

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37 Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

Unit 3 Belgium after a quarter century of state reforms

The Flemish government and the outside world Flanders in the European Union The Maastricht Treaty (1991) provides that regional ministers are also allowed to seat in the European Council of Ministers. Moreover, Flanders is represented in the European Committee of the Regions which was set up at the same time. Because of its independence, Flanders is now a direct partner of the European authorities. All member states of the European Union are obliged to transpose the European Directives into their own legislation. The Directives concerning the Flemish competence fields, such as environment, are to be turned into decrees by the Flemish parliament. That works the other way round, because Flemish experts participate in the technical preparation of European Directives.

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38 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Introduction Since the introduction of the universal suffrage in Belgium on 27th March 1948, women and men have equal political rights. Women obtained full voting right (compulsory voting) and were allowed to to put themselves forward for all levels of political decision-making. Optimists believed that the battle was won. As from then, women would increasingly participate in political decision-making. Progressively all decision-making bodies would be evenly composed : the parity democracy would be a sure thing. More than half a century later, we see that equal rights were no guarantee for equal opportunities. Though female participation in politics progressed it went but slowly and irregularly. Only in the past decade the authorities intervened. The favourable influcence of legislation with regard to female representation has become obvious.

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39 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Why do we want more women in politics? Democratic deficit The term is used for the female shortfall in democratic decision-making. Politics should represent all of a countrys inhabitants. The only right democracy is a representative democracy, in which men and women are evenly represented. Women are no minority group that needs to be protected. Women make actually up half of the population. We are talking about the basic principles of our democracy itself. Human capital Women possess half of the talents, half of the knowledge and half of the skills. The chance of finding the most competent person is twice as big when you recruit among women as well. The maximum utilization of the potential results in a better filling-in of political mandates. Specific interests and needs Women have their own interests and needs. They are in the best position to defend those interests. If you are personally confronted with a problem, you will sooner be inclined to tackle the problem fundamentally. For instance, the relation between care and work is a typical agenda item for female politicians, because it still is the women who find to their cost how problematic that relationship can be.

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40 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Why do we want more women in politics? Enriching Women are believed to have a proper style: theyd be different when they meet, confer or cooperate. An evenly participation of women and men may lead to a diversity of ideas, values and patterns of behaviour that can only result in an enrichment. Serve as an example An evenly participation of women and men in political decision-making is a must as a roll model for society in general and for other policy fields in particular.

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41 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Towards a parity democracy Parity democracy means: both sexes take equal part in political decision-making. The road to equal participation is hard and we move along jerkily. Parity needs a push in the right direction to cross the threshold. How do we deal with that? scientific research sensitization campaigns education and training structural measures

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Unit 4 Women in politics

Towards a parity democracy Scientific research Research keeps abreast of current events and delivers the weapons to tackle the situation. The collection of numerical data allows to represent the real situation, to evaluate it and follow it up. Based on those figures, certain trends may be displayed, advice may be given and strategies may be developed. Being confronted with the bare facts may also have a sensitizing effect. The media divulge study reports among the millions. So gradually a new state of mind may grow. Sensitization campaigns You can attempt to obtain a change in attitude by means of information campaigns shaking awake public opinion. During the late seventies political womens groups and womens associations conducted the Vote Womancampaign, supported by the authorities. Although most Belgians are convinced of the equivalence of men and women, only a tiny minority votes exclusively for women. Those are mostly highly educated women who are already won for parity democracy. Other target groups have to be reached.

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43 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Towards a parity democracy Education and training Political education is necessary when you attempt to convince people. Education can break out of the formation of an image (Politics is mans work), it may supply with a sound grasp of the functioning of democracy and it may provide useful experience. You also have to train new female candidates. That is done by political womens groups among others. There is also Sofia Politica: that institution organises training for women who want to go into politics. Sofia Politica is politically neutral. It has no ties with political parties. Besides, the Power Indicator of the Dutch-speaking Womens Council (NVR) is a useful instrument. It teaches how women can respond to power mechanisms of men during meetings. Women learning for an active life the training you are now following on the internet, is part of the European Commission educational programme Socrates. A well-known project of Socrates is the Erasmus project which permits students to study abroad for a few months. Another project is Grundtvig. The Grundtvig-project aims to enhance the quality, availability and accessiblility of lifelong learning through adult education in the European Union. It aims at offering a new chance for education to people who left the schooling system without basic skills. It wants to give a new impulse to innovation by means of alternative learning methods.Therefore, Grundtvig concentrates not only on the formal educational system but also on self-tuition.

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44 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Towards a parity democracy Structural measures: legislation adapted It is regretful that research, sensitization campaigns or education are not sufficient to establish the parity democracy within a reasonable term. Therefore, structural measures are necessary to enhance female participation. Some people are against imposing an obligation. Now it appears that the parity laws from 2002 imposing gender quota for the composition of lists of candidates, meant a key factor in enhancing female presence in the political scene. 1994 According to the Smet-Tobback law, also called the quota law political parties were no longer allowed to present lists of candidates on which candidates of the same sex amounted to more than two thirds. In reality this implied that at least one third of the candidates had to be a woman. The law is officially labelled: Law of 24th May 1994 with regard to promoting an evenly partition of men and women on the lists of candidates for the elections. Belgian Law Gazette of 1st July 1994. 2002 After a constitutional amendment introducing the fundamental legal principle of equality of men and women, Parliament passes a number of bills for parity on the lists of candidates, called the quota laws or parity laws. Further on we shall take stock of the impact the changes had on female representation in politics. First we explain how the Belgian voting system works and next we look at an ideal voting system for more women in politics, as set up by the scientific researchers Petra Meier and Kris Deschouwer.

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45 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Features of the Belgian voting system Not neutral The proportional system The party magnitude Closed or open nature of lists of candidates

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46 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Features of the Belgian voting system Not neutral Voting systems are not neutral. They play a key part in the distribution of seats. Consequently they have an impact on the transposition of votes into political representation. The proportional system The Belgian voting system is proportional. The parties obtain a number of seats in proportion to the number of votes they got. If a party X obtains let us say 23% of the votes, then the party X also gets 23% of the seats in parliament. In Belgium the mechanism is phrased as follows: Every constituency obtains as many seats as the federal divisor is included in the population figure of that constituency. The federal divisor is obtained by dividing the population figure of the nation by 150. In other words: You devide the number of Belgians by 150 : the result is the federal divisor next you devide the number of inhabitants of a constituency by the federal divisor the result of the second division gives the number of seats for that constituency.

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47 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Features of the Belgian voting system The party magnitude Party magnitude indicates the average number of seats per party and per constituency. In Belgium party magnitude is rather limited. The proportional nature of the voting system, in combination with the shattering of votes as a consequence of the voters choice, often results in a relatively large number of parties obtaining seats. The shattering of the votes between several parties makes the number of seats per party and per constituency relatively small. Closed or open nature of lists of candidates Lists of candidates may be of a closed or an open nature. In the case of closed lists the order of the candidates is fixed. It cannot be changed by preferential votes. In that case the political parties determine the mix of elected candidates. In the case of open lists, the mix is determined by the electorate. The Belgian lists of candidates have a semi-open nature. Here the order still plays a part but it may be adjusted by preferential votes. Yet the list order is seldom breached. From 1919 until 1999, only 0,6% of the members of parliament who did not stand for a safe seat, were elected.

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48 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Features of an ideal voting system for women There exists a close relationship between female representation on the political scene and the voting system. According to the researchers Petra Meyer and Kris Deschouwer (VUB), four interdependent features determine the number of female winners: 1. strong proportionality 2. high average number of seats per party and per constituency (party magnitude) 3. closed lists of candidates 4. rigid gender quota Quota may offer very strong guarantees when taking into account the number of safe seats per party.

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49 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Features of an ideal voting system for women Proportional voting systems may be in favour of women because political parties tend to present lists with a variety of candidates, which yields more votes and consequently more seats. The reason is that some constituents may refuse to vote on a list of which none of the candidates is a woman. In order for the proportional voting system to be favourable for women, it must not go along with a considerable restriction of the number of seats per party and per constituency. A large party magnitude enhances thus the chance to be elected for many candidates on varied lists. If all parties have more than a few elected candidates per constituency, they will be inclined to present to the electorate a greater variety of candidates, among which women as well. Closed lists of candidates are better for women. The candidates order is fixed and cannot be modified by preferential votes. In that case the parties determine the mix of candidates. Through the introduction and observance of quota, parties are forced to include women and position them on a safe seat. Quota may offer very strong guarantees when taking into account the number of safe seats per party.

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50 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Safe seats and combative seats The safe seats are the seats on top of the list that match the number of seats a party won at the previous elections on that list. The last safe seat is the position of the last seat the party obtained on that list. The combative seat of a list is the postion which comes immediately behind the last safe seat. Parties hope to win that seat if they get a better result than at the previous elections. The seats in usefull order correspond with the the whole of eligible positions including the struggle seat. (definitions by V. Verzele and C. Joly) The zipper principle means that alternately a man and a woman are positioned at the list of candidates. The parity law of 18th July 2002 introduces the paritary composition of lists of candidates and the obligatory representation of both sexes at the first three positions on the list. Yet political parties are not inclined to assign scarce positions to female candidates. The less eligible positions a list counts, the more these are taken by male candidates.

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51 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

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The changes in the Electoral Law 1 Enlargement of electoral districts 2 Introduction of the electoral threshold 3 Restriction of the list vote impact 1 Enlargement of the electoral districts for the Chamber of Representatives From now on, the electoral districts for the Chamber are larger: constituencies correspond with the territory of the provinces. Consequently the number of seats to be conferred mounts from an average of 7,5 to 13,5. The consequence is that political parties present lists of candidates with more diversity. So women stand a fairer chance of getting elected (K. Deschouwer & P. Meier, VUB) (Royal decree of 22th Janyary 2003 Belgian Law Gazette of 7th February 2003) 2 The introduction of the electoral threshold Only the lists which obtain at least 5% of the total votes in an electoral district qualify for the distribution of seats. An electoral threshold diminishes the number of parties, thus enhancing the number of seats per party. An increased party magnitude leads to a larger presence of women in politics. (Kris Deschouwer & Petra Meier, VUB) (Law of 13th December 2002 Belgian Law Gazette of 10th January 2003)

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52 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

Changes in the Electoral Law 1. Enlargement of electoral districts 2. Introduction of the electoral threshold 3. Restriction of the list votes impact Restriction of the list votes impact The impact (devolutive power) of the list vote is curtailed with fifty per cent. As from now, only half of the list votes go to the candidates. The devolutive effect of the list vote means that the votes given to the list as a whole (on top of the list) are attributed to the candidates according to the order in which they appear on the list. The first candidate on the list gets a number of list votes he needs to be elected, the remaining list votes go to the next candidate enough for him to be elected, and so on, until all list votes are exhausted. So now the transfer of list votes will be cut in half. Some people fear that, when the weight of preferential votes increases, the order of the list will be turned over more often. That would be a disadvantage for female candidates who, according to the parity law, have to be positioned on top of the list, which gives them a fair chance of being elected. Restricting the influence of the list vote is believed to modify the useful order of the list and undermine the parity law. (Deschouwer & Meier, VUB). (Law of 27th December 2000 BLG 24/1/2001)

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53 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

The parity laws During 2002, several bills were passed obliging political parties on a paritary composition of their lists of candidates, the so called quota laws or parity laws. Law of 17th June 2002 to guarantee equal representation of men and women on the lists of candidates for the elections of the European Parliament. BLG 282002. Law of 18th July 2002 to guarantee equal representation of men and women on the lists of candidates for the elections of the federal Legislative Chambers and the Council of the German-speaking Community. BLG 28/8/2002. Particular law of 18th July 2002 to guarantee equal representation of men and women on the lists of candidates for the elections of the Walloon Regional Council, the Flemish Council and the Brussels-Capital Council. BLG 13/9/2002. The most important difference with the Smet-Tobback law from 1994 ( no more than two third of the candidates of the same sex) is that the parity law does not admit the disparity between the number of men and women to be more than one. What is more, the first two positions on every list have to be for a man and a women.

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54 Unit 4 Women in politics

Unit 4 Women in politics

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Consequences for female representation Compared to 1999 the lists of candidates of 2002 position more women on eligible places. The number of women with an eligible position for the Senate rose on average with 13%. For the Chamber, the percentage went up from 17,6% to 31,8 % for Dutch-speaking parties and from 22% to 38,7% for the French-speaking parties. The number of elected women for the Chamber went up from 29 women in 1999 to 52 in 2003. For the first time in Belgian politics the 30% threshold was crossed for the Representatives of the people: 34,6 % In the Senate that threshold had already been reached at the 1999 elections. In 2003, 15 women were elected or 37,5 % of the directly elected senators. The legal force of the parity law of 18th July 2002 had effect; in 60% of the cases the large political parties applied the zipper principle for the first two positions. The extension of the constituencies for the Chamber appears to have a great impact on the rise of female presence in Parliament. The restriction with fifty per cent of the devolutive effect of the list vote seems not to have had the annoying consequences for the candidates some people had feared for: the order of the lists still plays an important part and women get a lot of preferential votes. (Source: Instituut voor Gelijkheid van vrouwen en mannen: De politieke deelname van de vrouwen na de verkiezingen van 18 mei 2003. Brussel, 2003).

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55 Sources

Sources

Documentary sources Witte, E., Craeybeckx, J., Meynen, A., Politieke geschiedenis van Belgi? van 1830 tot heden. Standaard Uitgeverij Antwerpen, 1997. Instituut voor Gelijkheid van vrouwen en mannen: De politieke deelname van de vrouwen na de verkiezingen van 18 mei 2003. Brussel, 2003 Verzele,V., Joly, C., La repr?sentation des femmes en politique apr?s les ?lections du 13 juin 1999. Courrier hebdomadaire du CRISP, n 1662-1663, 1999. Petra Meier, De hervorming van de kieswet, de nieuwe quota en de m/v verhoudingen na de verkiezingen van mei 2003. Vakgroep Politieke Wetenschappen, Brussel, VUB, 2003. Deschouwer, K., Meier, P., Recente en geplande hervormingen van de kieswet: de mogelijke impact op het aantal vrouwelijke verkozenen. Vakgroep Politieke Wetenschappen & Centrum voor Vrouwenstudies, VUB, 2002. Europees Parlement, Variabele impact van de kiesstelsels op de vrouwelijke vertegenwoordiging. Werkdocument van het Directoraat- generaal van de studi?n van het Europees parlement (reeks vrouwenrechten W-10), maart 1997. Dhaveloose, E., Mijlpalen in de Belgische politieke geschiedenis en vorming van de Belgische staatsstructuur. RoSa Fact Sheet nr. 5, oktober 2000, RoSa Documentatiecentrum en Archief, Brussel. Electronic sources Law Faculty University Namen, http://obelix.droit.fundp.ac.be/droit2/index.php The Flemish authorities: http://www2.vlaanderen.be/ned/sites/overheid/verder/n_2_1.htm De Nederlandstalige Vrouwenraad (NVR): http://www.vrouwenraad.be/pdf/genderwetswijzer_politiek.pdf http://www.vrouwenraad.be/persberichten/2002/van_burgerdemocratie.html

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The Political System in Belgium
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