A Tale of Two Charters: Political Crisis, Political Realignment and Administrative Reform in Belgium

Public Management Review, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 367-390, 2005

40 Pages Posted: 17 May 2010

See all articles by Steven Van de Walle

Steven Van de Walle

KU Leuven - Department of Political Science; Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Public Administration

Nick Thijs

European Institute of Public Administration

Geert Bouckaert

KU Leuven

Date Written: May 1, 2005

Abstract

Charters are official commitments to quality and reform. Belgium introduced its Charter of the User of Public Services in 1993. The federal administration’s Copernicus reform began in 1999 and had a strong external outlook. It therefore may be considered as a second User Charter. In this article we focus on the administrative and political contingencies of the introduction of the two charters in Belgium. We show that actual administrative reform and political attention for administrative reform are distinct phenomena. Variations in political attention for reform depend on crises and on political realignment. Both charters were introduced in a period of disturbed relations between citizens and politics. The introduction of a User Charter and the launch of the Copernicus reform were definitely political events, and not merely administrative ones. A charter was needed to restore citizen-government relations. The charters, as pledges for reform, served as lightning rods for political discontent.

Keywords: Public sector reform, customer charter, citizen charter, Belgium, administrative reform

JEL Classification: D73

Suggested Citation

Van de Walle, Steven and Thijs, Nick and Bouckaert, Geert, A Tale of Two Charters: Political Crisis, Political Realignment and Administrative Reform in Belgium (May 1, 2005). Public Management Review, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 367-390, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1609872

Steven Van de Walle (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Department of Political Science ( email )

Public Management Institute
Van Evenstraat 2A
B-3000 Leuven
Belgium
+32 16 323614 (Phone)
+32 16 323611 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.publicmanagementinstitute.be

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Public Administration ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
0031 10 408 2518 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stevenvandewalle.eu

Nick Thijs

European Institute of Public Administration ( email )

Maastricht
United States

Geert Bouckaert

KU Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, 3000
Belgium

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