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Ideas, Institutions and the Politics of Federalism and Territorial Redistribution

  • Daniel Béland (a1) and André Lecours (a2)

Abstract

Drawing on the work of Richard Simeon and using the cases of equalization in Canada and Belgium's social security system, this article shows how nationalist ideas combined with institutional management structures, government formation rules and the configuration of party systems to condition the territorial dynamics around these two programmes. In Canada, resentment against equalization in many provinces, often because it is perceived as accommodating Québécois nationalism, has translated only into moderate pressures on the programme because federal parties have largely stayed away from this divisive issue and federal executive discretion over the programme has meant that provinces cannot force change. In Belgium, pressures on social security have been more intense because the absence of pan-Belgian parties has given greater resonance to Flemish nationalist ideas within the political system.

Cet article suit la recommandation mise de l'avant par Richard Simeon dans son article de 1976 intitulé “Studying Public Policy” en développant une explication idéationnelle et institutionnelle des pressions exercées sur les grands programmes de redistribution territoriale au Canada et en Belgique. En utilisant les cas de la péréquation au Canada et de la sécurité sociale en Belgique, l'article montre que les facteurs conditionnant les dynamiques territoriales autour de ces politiques sont les idées nationalistes, les règles concernant la formation des gouvernements et la structure des systèmes de partis. Au Canada, un ressentiment envers la péréquation existe dans certaines provinces en grande partie parce que le programme est perçu comme favorisant le Québec. Par contre, ce ressentiment ne s'est pas traduit par des pressions politiques intenses car les partis politiques fédéraux ne portent pas cette position et les provinces ne peuvent pas forcer une modification du programme. En Belgique, la pression sur la Sécurité Sociale issue du nationalisme flamand a une importance politique plus grande en raison de l'absence de partis politiques pan-belges.

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