Representative Bureaucracy in Belgium: Power-Sharing or Diversity?
In: von Maravić, P., Peters, B.G. & Schröter, E. (eds). Representative bureaucracy in action: Country profiles from the Americas, Europe, Afrixa, and Asia. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 69-86.
20 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 16, 2014
In this chapter we explain how the Belgian administration is confronted with a double challenge for building a representative bureaucracy. Representative bureaucracy is concerned with making bureaucracies more responsive to the public they serve (Krislov, 1974; Sowa & Selden, 2003). On the one hand, that public, i.e. the Belgian society is characterized by an ubiquitous division between Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speaking Walloons. An elaborate set of rules (Language Law) regulates the representation of the two language groups (Dutch-speakers and French-speakers) in the Federal as well as in the Regional public administrations. On the other hand, Belgian society is also dealing with growing ethnic-cultural diversity. Therefore the Federal and Regional governments have rules, policies and instruments aimed at establishing a diverse Federal and Regional public administration. These policies all give, to a certain degree, attention to the representation of ethnic-cultural groups in the administration (Dienst Emancipatiezaken, 2010; Région Wallonne, 2007). Before discussing these rules, policies and instruments, we first discuss the starting conditions. We illustrate how the two dominant language communities more and more drifted apart and how this growing cultural-linguistic cleavage has determined and is still determining Belgian polity and policy. At the same time, Belgium is rapidly becoming more and more ethnically and culturally diverse. As such, representativeness in Belgian administration faces two kinds of diversity: an old, deep-rooted cultural-linguistic diversity between Flemings and Walloons and a newer kind of diversity: the growing presence of ethnic-cultural minorities, i.e. immigrants and their descendants.
Keywords: representative bureaucracy, diversity, Belgium
JEL Classification: D73
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation