Country Profiles from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia
Edited by B. Guy Peters, Patrick von Maravić and Eckhard Schröter
Chapter 5: Representative bureaucracy in Belgium: power sharing or diversity?
For a long time the question of representativeness in the Belgian administration has been dominated by the cultural–linguistic cleavage that divides the Dutch-speaking Flemings and the French-speaking Walloons. Since 1960 this cleavage has become, and still is, a central issue in the organization of the political and administrative structure of the Belgian state (Heisler, 1977). The polity of the current Federal Belgium is a result of different state reforms aimed at pacifying the relations between the two dominant language communities, the Flemings and the Walloons. Over time, the two language groups have received rights and protection in the different aspects of the public sector in Belgium. Various policy measures and a comprehensive Language Law regulate the representation of Dutch-speakers and French-speakers in the parliament, the executive, and public employment (Deschouwer, 2004). Only recently has representativeness in the Belgian public sector got a wider interpretation. Since about 2004, the Federal government also has a diversity policy that is explicitly aimed at establishing a representative civil service, i.e. a representative bureaucracy.
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