Les partis politiques

  • Emmanuel Gerard


The Belgian scientific literature dealing with political parties has four main characteristics. First it pays great attention to party doctrines and to parliamentary struggle. Indeed, in the nineteenth century political parties do not strike by their organization, which is still undeveloped, nor by their functions, which are still limited, but by the public debate they are stimulating in Parliament and in the press. Only from the end of the century, when the suffrage is extended, the organization of the parties wilt get more articulated and their functions more complicated. Secondly the literature pays great attention to the legitimation of the political parties, which are still controversial particularly because they should threaten the national union. The authors exert oneselves to prove that parliamentary government is by definition a party government. They distinguish parties from factions in order to make the first acceptable. Thirdly the literature deals with the party system.
The Belgian authors take the two party system which exists in Great Britain as example and try to prove that the alternation of two parties, the party of conservation and the party of progress, is necessary for the good working of the institutions. Fourthly, the literature, particularly the historica!, is rather descriptive and is characterized by a lack of comparisons, generalizations and hypothesis.
Two periods can be distinguished in the literature. In the first period, 1830-1894, the suffrage is limited and the political scene is dominated by two parties (the liberal and the conservative or catholic parties) .
This period is marked by the publications of Emile de Laveleye (1822-1892), one of the most prolific writers of the second half of the nineteenth century. In the second period, 1894-1914, the advent of the socialist party disturbs the working of the classical party government.  Maurice Vauthier (1860-1931) is the main author of this period. He tries to establish the characteristics of the party government and its chances in the future.

How to Cite:

Gerard, E., (1985) “Les partis politiques”, Res Publica 27(4), 457-484. doi:

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Published on
30 Dec 1985
Peer Reviewed