The Constitution of Belgium

A Contextual Analysis

The Constitution of Belgium

The Belgian Constitution, once described as a model of consensus democracy, has now become an enigma in comparative federalism. On the one hand, it demonstrates features which suggest institutional instability as well as elements that enhance the probability of secession. On the other hand, Belgium continues to exist as a federal system, based upon linguistic bipolarity. This linguistic bipolarity dominates Belgian politics and has shaped the design of Belgium's institutions as well as the Constitution's fundamental organising principles: concepts of federalism, democracy, separation of powers, constitutionalism and the rule of law. In this book, the institutional structure and the principles governing the Belgian constitutional system are explained in the light of its historical, demographic and political context. Linguistic bipolarity and its historical evolution explain the establishment of the Belgian State structure as a dual federalism, with exclusive powers, instruments for consensus making and obstruction, and elements of confederal decision making. It also explains the evolution in the concept of principles of democracy and the rule of law. Besides describing the devolutionary process, the book also incorporates two other elements that have shaped the Belgian constitutional landscape: fundamental rights and Europeanisation.

The Constitution of Freedom

An Introduction to Legal Constitutionalism

The Constitution of Freedom

Constitutional democracy is more fragile and less 'natural' than autocracy. While this may sound surprising to complacent democrats, more and more people find autocracy attractive, because they were never forced to understand or imagine what despotism is. Generations who have lived in stable democracies with the promise that their enviable world will become the global 'normal' find government rule without constitutionalism difficult to conceive. It is difficult, but never too late, to see one's own constitutional system as something that is fragile, or up for grabs and in need of constant attention and care. In this book, András Sajó and Renáta Uitz explore how constitutionalism protects us and how it might be undone by its own means. Sajó and Uitz's intellectual history of the constitutional ideal is rich in contextual detail and informed by case studies that give an overview of both the theory and practice of constitutionalism worldwide. Classic constitutions are contrasted with twentieth-century and contemporary endeavours, and experimentations in checks and balances. Their endeavour is neither apologetic (and certainly not celebratory), nor purely defensive: this book demonstrates why constitutionalism should continue to matter. Between the rise of populist, anti-constitutional sentiment and the normalization of the apparatus of counter-terrorism, it is imperative that the political communities who seek to sustain democracy as freedom understand the importance of constitutionalism. This book is essential reading for students of law and general readers without prior knowledge of the field, as well as those in politics who believe they know how government works. It shows what is at stake in the debate on constitutionalism.

The Politics of Belgium

A Unique Federalism

The Politics of Belgium

This is a completely new work built on the foundations of the author's earlier study of Belgian politics published in 1983.

Engineering Constitutional Change

A Comparative Perspective on Europe, Canada and the USA

Engineering Constitutional Change

This volume provides a holistic presentation of the reality of constitutional change in 18 countries (the 15 old EU member states, Canada, Switzerland and the USA). The essays offer analysis on formal and informal constitutional amendment bringing forth the overall picture of the parallel paths constitutional change follows, in correlation to what the constitution means and how constitutional law works. To capture the patterns of constitutional change, multi-faceted parameters are explored such as the interrelations between form of government, party system, and constitutional amendment; the interplay between constitutional change and the system of constitutionality review; the role of the people, civil society, and experts in constitutional change; and the influence of international and European law and jurisprudence on constitutional reform and evolution. In the extensive final, comparative chapter, key features of each country's amendment procedures are epitomized and the mechanisms of constitutional change are explained on the basis of introducing five distinct models of constitutional change. The concept of constitutional rigidity is re-approached and broken down to a set of factual and institutional rigidities. The classification of countries within models, in accordance with the way in which operative amending mechanisms connect, leads to a succinct portrayal of different modes of constitutional change engineering. This book will prove to be an invaluable tool for approaching constitutional revision either for theoretical or for practical purposes and will be of particular interest to students and scholars of constitutional, comparative and public law.

The Politics of Belgium

Governing a Divided Society

The Politics of Belgium

Belgium set a new world record in 2011 for the time needed to form a government, taking no less than 541 days to bring together a new federal coalition. Governing a divided society like Belgium is never easy, demanding appropriate institutions and advanced political skills. In this fully revised and updated text, Kris Deschouwer gives an even-handed and analytically sophisticated account of contemporary Belgium politics. He explains the background to the territorial divide between a Dutch-speaking north and a French-speaking south that has shaped the political system and has led Belgium's polarized communities to contemplate divorce after decades of search for institutional responses to internal conflict. Deschouwer sets out the institutional arrangements of what has been called the most thorough example of a consociational democracy, and shows how this form of democratic government, along with Belgium's particular federal system has provided a basis – most of the time – to govern a deeply divided country. Fully updated to cover the latest developments, including the 2011 agreement on new constitutional reform, this leading text provides a comprehensive picture of Belgian politics which helps answer the question of whether Belgium – and indeed other divided societies – can be governed in a legitimate democratic manner.