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Belgium's response to COVID-19

Book Contribution - Chapter

Belgian federalism is characterized by a ‘falling apart’ evolution. The centrifugal nature of Belgian federalism is exemplified by six constitutional reforms since 1970, each one resulting in more autonomy and more competences for the federated levels. The state reforms did not follow a masterplan but rather responded to ad hoc demands from the dominant political parties to solve political and policy discord (Deschouwer 2012). The competitive logic of Belgian federalism puts all government levels on equal footing while granting them exclusive powers in allocated competences. The bricolage character of the state reforms gave the country a complex division of competences that crosscuts policy domains. Moreover, Belgium ended up with two separate party systems and four electoral colleges resulting in different government coalitions defending diverging interests across the levels of government (Swenden and Jans 2006). The Belgian response to the first two waves of the COVID-19 crisis has been a textbook illustration of how these features (mal)function in practice.
Book: Federalism and the response to COVID-19 : a comparative analysis / Chattopadhyay, R. [edit.]; et al.
Pages: 39 - 48
Keywords:H1 Book chapter