Authors: Bert De Bakker , Mieke Claeys-Van Haegendoren
According to the standards of public law, municipal polls have only a local scope : the election of a common council. Do politicians make deductions concerning the formal political power-constellation on national level either from the approach of municipal elections or from their results ? Can these elections lead to changes in or of the government and eventually to anticipated legislative elections ?
After the first world-war, the electorate was called eight times to vote for new common councillors. Half of these elections (1921, 1926, 1938 and 1958) had no influence on the national power-constellation :
they hardly stirred the national political life. In 1958 any possible influence of the municipal elections was even a priori ruled out. A remarkable point is that all municipal elections which took place under
governments of national union (1921, 1926 and 19 38) , were only of local importance.
Since the first world-war not a single municipal election has led to changes within the government : there was never a redistribution of ministerial portfolios amongst the coalitionpartners, nor did any election
cause the dismissal of an individual minister.
It is traditional in Belgian politics that the national opposition, when the results of municipal elections are in its favour and prejudicial to the party (parties) in office (1946, 1952 and 1964), tries to call in question the legitimacy of the government in the opinion of the public by the way of motions or interpellations in parliament, claiming dismissal of the government or anticipated legislative elections. At these occasions it appeared unimportant whether the parliamental majority were confortable or not. But never did the governments give in to these attempts.
The elections of 1857, 1884 and 1932 constitute an element of power - although of subsidiary importance - in the discharge of the then governments. The governmental crisis of 1884 however can only be explained if the constitutional position of Leopold II is taken into account. With all other factors alike, such a crisis wouldn't arise any more in the context of to-day. The municipal elections of 1932 have moreover led to anticipated legislative elections whose date was an element of power in the election-process. At that time, these elections played the part of an indicator of the electorial condition, comparable to that of the by elections in Great-Britain. And an unreliable indicator too, in view of the difference between national and local electionstatures.
How to Cite: De Bakker, B. & Claeys-Van Haegendoren, M. (1970) “De invloed van de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen op de nationale politieke machtskonstellatie”, Res Publica. 12(3). doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/rp.v12i3.19773