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Vol 22 No 7 July/August 2017

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Constitution of Belgium: A Contextual Analysis


ISBN13: 9781849464154
Published: October 2015
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback
Price: £21.99



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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 organizing 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 con-federal 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, both of which have been influenced by and impacted on Belgium's bipolar constitutional structure.

Subjects:
European Jurisdictions, Belgium
Contents:
1. CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES: A HISTORICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL ACCOUNT
PART I: THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE CONSTITUTION
PART II: NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY AND A 'MUZZLED' KING A. National Sovereignty B. A Parliamentary Monarchy: The King ' s Powers Limited
PART III: THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE UNITARY DECENTRALISED STATE INTO A FEDERAL STATE: SIX IMPORTANT STATE REFORMS
A. Before 1970
B. The 1970 Reform: The Foundations of the New State
C. The 1980 Reform: The Regions Come Alive
D. The 1988 Reform: The Creation of the Brussels-Capital Region
E. The 1993 Reform: Federalism at Last
F. The 2001 - 2003 Reform: Without Modifying the Constitution
G. The 2012 - 2013 Reform: A Long Journey to ... Conclusion Further Reading

2. THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE BELGIAN CONSTITUTION
PART I: CONSTITUTIONALISM
A. The Constitution
B. The Rechtsstaat
C. The Separation of Powers
PART II: THE DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLE
A. Constitutional Concepts of Democracy
B. Challenges
PART III: FEDERALISM AND MULTILEVEL GOVERNANCE Conclusion Further Reading

3. FEDERALISM AND THE MULTILEVEL STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT
PART I: FEATURES
A. General Features
B. Particular Features
C. Future Prospects
PART II: ALLOCATION OF COMPETENCES
A. Residual Powers
B. Techniques for the Allocation of Powers
C. Processes for Changing the Distribution of Powers
PART III: SUBNATIONAL CONSTITUTIONALISM
PART IV: BRUSSELS
PART V: BELGIUM IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
A. Constitutional Hubs for European Integration
B. Capturing Tri-Level Dynamics in the Constitutional System Conclusion Further Reading

4. THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
PART I: PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL PARTIES
A. The Crucial Role of Political Parties in the Belgian System of Parliamentary Government
B. Status and Financing of Political Parties
PART II: THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM
A. Voting Rights and Quotas
B. Principles of the Electoral System
PART III: BICAMERALISM
PART IV: FUNCTIONS
A. The Legislative Function
B. The Power of the Purse
C. Parliamentary Control
D. Foreign Affairs and Military Matters
PART V: MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT: LEGAL STATUS
PART VI: DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT
PART VII: PARLIAMENT AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION Conclusion Further Reading

5. THE EXECUTIVE POWER AND ADMINISTRATION
PART I: THE KING AS HEAD OF THE EXECUTIVE POWER
PART II: GOVERNMENT AS THE HEART OF THE EXECUTIVE
A. Council of Ministers (The Federal Cabinet)
B. Council of Ministers and State Secretaries
C. The Inner Cabinet ( Het Kernkabinet )
D. The Crown Council
PART III: COMPETENCES
A. Nomination of Ministers, Secretaries of State and Civil Servants
B. Execution of Laws
C. Foreign Affairs
D. Defence
PART IV: LEGAL STATUS
A. The King
B. The Ministers and the Secretaries of State
PART V: POLITICAL AND LEGAL ACCOUNTABILITY
PART VI: ADMINISTRATION AND PUBLIC SERVICES
PART VII: CURRENT AFFAIRS Conclusion Further Reading

6. THE PLURALISTIC JUDICIAL SYSTEM AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
PART I: CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES
A. Constitutional Principles and the Court System
B. Constitutional Principles of Due Process
PART II: THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
A. Establishment and Development
B. Composition
C. The Powers and Procedures of the Court
D. The Role of the Constitutional Court
PART III: THE COURTS AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION
Conclusion Further Reading

7. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
PART I: AN OUTDATED CATALOGUE OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS?
A. The Emergence of New Rights
B. The Internationalisation of Fundamental Rights
C. Horizontal Effect of Fundamental Rights
PART II: THE BELGIAN FORMAL APPROACH TO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
A. A Legal Basis for Restrictions Through Acts of Parliament
B. No Prior Intervention
C. Looking at Fundamental Rights Through the Prism of Equality
PART III: THE EUROPEAN CONTRIBUTION TO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
A. The European Convention on Human Rights
B. EU Law PART IV: CONCURRING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
PART V: THE PROBLEM OF LINGUISTIC RIGHTS: A CASUS BELLI ?
PART VI: NEW CHALLENGES TO FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS PROTECTION
Conclusion Further Reading
CONCLUSION: NO FUTURE FOR BELGIUM OR A BELGIAN BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE?
ECONOMIC CONTEXT DEMOGRAPHIC CONTEXT EUROPEAN INTEGRATION A FUTURE FOR BELGIUM?

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