A Sacred Union or a Forced Union? Belgian Parliamentarians Facing the Need for Deliberative Democracy

By Vincent Jacquet, Nathalie Schiffino, Min Reuchamps, Delphine Latinis

In times of deep democratic transformations, it is useful to analyze how elected MPs conceive the notion of political representation and of citizens’ participation. This endeavor sheds light on the potential inclusion of democratic innovation in the current parliamentary regimes. The position of elected officials is ambiguous, falling as it does between distrust and concrete reference to mechanisms of participatory democracy. Through a qualitative analysis of interviews with Belgian federal MPs, this article shows that national representatives do not agree on the need for citizen participation. They highlight that politics implies technical abilities and a high degree of professionalization to apprehend crucial issues and constraints concerning modern governance. Nonetheless, MPs’ discourses are characterized by different positions on the place given to citizens. On this basis, this article proposes three ideal-typical profiles: elitist, corporatist, and hybrid.


  • participatory democracy
  • representative government
  • MPs
  • Belgium
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