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Chapter 6 Belgium and the Netherlands. Steven B. Wolinetz. Belgium and the Netherlands. Belgium and the Netherlands – similar or different? History and institutions Segmentation and its impact Parties and the party systems Governing and policy processes Consensus democracy: sharing space

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Chapter 6 belgium and the netherlands l.jpg

Chapter 6Belgium and the Netherlands

Steven B. Wolinetz


Belgium and the netherlands l.jpg
Belgium and the Netherlands

  • Belgium and the Netherlands – similar or different?

  • History and institutions

  • Segmentation and its impact

  • Parties and the party systems

  • Governing and policy processes

  • Consensus democracy: sharing space

  • External dynamics


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Belgium and the Netherlands – similar or different?

  • Both are parliamentary democracies with fragmented multiparty systems

  • Less similar than they appear

  • Belgium is a consociational democracy

  • Netherlands is an ex-consociational democracy


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History and Institutions

  • Netherlands and Belgium united under Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815)

  • Belgium declared independence in 1830

  • Belgium industrialized earlier than the Netherlands

  • Post-WW2: both countries joined European and international organizations

  • Netherlands is a unitary state

  • Belgium has become a federal state


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Segmentation and its impact

  • Both Netherlands and Belgium characterized by pillarization/segmentation

  • Belgium divided into Catholic, Liberal and Socialist pillars

  • Netherlands divided into Calvinist, Catholic, Socialist and Liberal pillars

  • Divides managed through consociationalism

  • Belgian linguistic conflicts prevail

  • Clientelism ensures strong parties in Belgian state


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Parties and the party system

  • Both countries have complex multiparty systems

  • Both countries have proportional representation with low thresholds

  • Parties divide around religious cleavages, class/ideology cleavages

  • Rise of anti-immigration and anti-EU sentiment in Netherlands

  • Rise in electoral volatility

  • Coalition politics prevails


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Governing and policy processes

  • Holding coalitions together requires tactical sensitivity

  • Ministers enjoy a large degree of autonomy in the Netherlands

  • In Belgium parties retain a greater degree of control over their ministers


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Consensus democracy: sharing space

  • National governments share space in both countries:

    • In the Netherlands, with para-public agencies and social partners

    • In Belgium, with regional governments

  • Consensual government; policy change is difficult and slow

  • Organized capitalism

  • The Netherlands is a consensus democracy

  • Belgium is a consociational and consensus democracy

  • Consensus democracy has prompted a rise in the populist right and anti-establishment parties


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External dynamics

  • Both original members of the EU

  • Both historically pro-integration, in part as legacy of German invasion

  • Both economies highly dependent on trade


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Conclusions

  • Dutch citizens appear concerned with government’s governing ability

  • In Belgium there are concerns over the effectiveness of the police and justice system

  • Dutch have become more sceptical about EU