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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/22609

Title: The vote champion as mayor? The influence of electoral legislation on the local political game
Authors: Hennau, Sofie
Keunen, Stef
Ackaert, Johan
Issue Date: 2016
Citation: ECPR 2016 General Conference, Prague, 07/09/2016-10/09/2016
Abstract: In different West European countries, institutional innovations have been introduced at the local level, pursuing a shift from a model of local party democracy to one of local citizen democracy (Vetter 2009). One of the main features of this trend is the introduction of direct elections for mayors. By reducing the political parties’ impact on the mayor’s appointment and giving the citizens more weight in the election process, legislators tried to integrate citizens into a more democratic decision-making process: they aimed to enhance the responsiveness, strengthen the citizens’ involvement and boost the turnout at local elections (Vetter & Kersting 2002; Vetter 2009). In Belgium as well, the appointment of the mayor was one of the most discussed electoral reforms at the beginning of the 21st century. Although the discussion was most fierce within Flanders, the appointment of the mayor remained unchanged: in the Flemish Region the mayor is still appointed by the Flemish Regional government, on the nomination of the Municipal Council. In Wallonia the situation is different: since the Walloon ‘Code de la démocratie locale’ (2005) the municipal councilor with the largest number of preferential votes of the biggest majority party is appointed mayor. This article examines the impact of local electoral legislation on the choice of the mayor in the Belgian municipalities. It focusses on the mechanical effects of electoral reforms, described by Duverger (1951) as the effects arising directly from the electoral legislation. More specifically, we examine the extent to which Flemish municipalities would have had different mayors during the 2012-2018 term if the Walloon nomination system would have been applied in Flanders. Additionally, we examine which community features (for example scale and political continuity) have a possible mediating influence on the legislation’s impact on the selection of mayors.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/22609
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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