L'espace idéologique au Parlement belge : Une approche comparative

Res Publica 22 (1-2):151-176 (1980)
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The management of conflicts in society is perhaps the main function of parliamentary systems. lts success, as estimated by the extent of problem-solving and by the limitation of conflict costs, has to be explainedby the mildness of the challenge to the system and/or by the strength of its response. Among the resources available to the system too little credit is given to the factional elements in political culture, especially to the ideology of the decision-makers. The most promising feature appears to be the differentiation of the ideological space in which political conflict-managers have to operate.The ideological space of the membership of parliament is «differentiated» when it is pluridimensional, when none of these ideological dimensions attains dominating salience, and when the most sensitive political issues are located on different dimensions. The data from a comparative research project show that the Italian parliament with its notoriously weak conflict-management record, fails the first and crucial test: its ideological space is strongly unidimensional. The Swiss parliamentary system with its excellent record passes all the tests. Belgium features a pluridimensional space which is impaired by the dominating salience of one of its dimensions. Other aspects of this space can only partially compensate this weakness. This might contribute to explain the mixed record of political conflict-management in our country.



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