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|Title:||Belgium: Management of the community crisis, 1961-1981.|
|Authors:||Warden, J. G.|
|Presented at:||University of Leicester|
|Abstract:||The Belgian political system before 1961 depended for its stability primarily upon the three traditional parties which dominated it and transcended the cleavage between the Dutch and French speaking communities. In times of tension, such as the Schools Crisis of 1958, inter-party co-operation (or consociational democracy) was used as a means of crisis-management. The system was, therefore, one of competitive party politics in normal times and consociational techniques used to resolve exceptionally acute issues. The Community Problem of the 1960s, arising out of the growth of strong community or regional movements and new political parties in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, assumed crisis proportions in 1968 when it caused the downfall of a government. The consociational approach was attempted as in 1958. It proved difficult because by 1968 the main parties were losing control of the political situation. Their traditional total dominance of the system was weakened and they were themselves splitting internally along community lines under pressure from the regional movements. The efforts to reform the Constitution in the 1960s and again in the 1970s were an attempt to achieve a consensus to de-fuse the issues and manage the crisis. This was more difficult to achieve than in 1958 because of the complexity of the issues, many of which allowed no compromise where compromise was essential, the mixed motives of the various parties and their varying levels of enthusiasm for the reforms and finally the serious strains upon the unity of the traditional parties. Reforms were passed in 1971 by all parties and in 1980 by the three traditional parties alone. The new system, in spite of its allowance for regional cultural and economic autonomy, remains still largely centralist. Post-1980 Belgium presents, however, many more areas where compromise and accommodation are more necessary than before 1961. The necessary pre-conditions for consociationalism as part of normal politics have increased. It is questionable, however, whether these pre-conditions will prove sufficient to transform the system into a consociational democracy on a more permanent basis.|
|Rights:||Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.|
|Appears in Collections:||Theses, Dept. of Politics and International Relations|
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