Articles

Electoral Reform and electoral Behaviour in Belgium: Change within Continuity... or conversely

Author
  • Benoît Rihoux orcid logo

Abstract

Since the November 1991 elections, it has become a common statement to argue that Belgium has entered a -possibly unprecedented- period ofchange and instability. This article focuses on the evolution of the electoral system and electoral behaviour, in order to test this widely agreed-upon judgement.  All things considered, one observes that the electoral system has not been radically modified since World War II. In spite of the transformation of the country into a federal state and several severe conflicts, political decision-makers have opted for the 'fine-tuning" of the electoral system instead of radical reforms.
As far as electoral behaviour is concerned, the picture is less clear. On one hand, relying on various indicators, one does observe that the early 1990s were characterised by change and transformation. On the other hand, one cannot conclude that the amplitude of change or instability in the early 1990s has been "exceptional" or "unprecedented" as compared with earlier periods.
Building upon this ambiguous diagnosis, the author speculates on the probability of a major breakdown of the Belgian political system at the turn of the century.

How to Cite:

Rihoux, B., (1996) “Electoral Reform and electoral Behaviour in Belgium: Change within Continuity... or conversely”, Res Publica 38(2), p.255-278. doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/rp.v38i2.18622

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Published on
29 Jun 1996
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