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It does look similar to Lebanon's confessional system, but Lebanon has also assigned specific national institutions to specific confessional groups, for example the President is always a Maronite, the Prime Minister always a Sunni, the speaker of Parliament always a Shia, etc., which the pillarisation system doesn't seem to have done.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 01:32:42 PM EST
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However, at least according to wikipedia the linguistic communities have a measure of veto power.
Another important characteristic of Belgian national politics is the highly federal nature of decision making. Important decisions require both a national majority (2/3 for constitutional changes), as well as majorities in the two main language groups. On top of that, both these communities can activate 'alarm bell'-procedures, delaying changes. In addition, there are no national parties to speak of. As a result of this, Belgian decision making can be slow and expensive. On top, it tends to significantly favour the more conservative parties. Given the historically very high public expenditure, and the very strict central control over taxation, even for revenues going to regions and communities, the tendency of Belgian governments to lower taxation and especially labour charges has been limited, at least if compared to radical-liberal approaches followed by certain other countries.
This reminds me of the Stormont agreement
The Northern Ireland [Assembly] has two primary mechanisms to guarantee power-sharing. The first is the manner in which ministers are appointed to the Northern Ireland Executive. These are not nominated by a simple majority vote. Rather all parties with a significant number of seats are entitled to at least one minister, and ministerial portfolios are divided among the parties in proportion to their strength in the Assembly, through a method known as the d'Hondt system. The second power-sharing mechanism is the requirement that certain resolutions must receive "cross community support", or the support of a minimum number of MLAs from both communities, to be passed by the Assembly. Every MLA is officially designated as either "nationalist", "Unionist" or "non-aligned". The election of the First and Deputy First Ministers, the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speakers, any changes to the standing orders and the adoption of certain money bills must all occur with cross-community support. The election of the First and Deputy First Ministers must occur by parallel consent but in all other cases either form of cross community support is acceptable. In addition to votes on these subjects any vote taken by the Assembly can be made dependent on cross-community support if at least thirty MLAs present the Speaker with a "petition of concern" before the vote is taken. This means, in effect, that, provided enough MLAs from a given community agree, each of the two communities represented in the Assembly can exercise a veto over its decisions.

Each MLA is free to designate themselves as "nationalist", "unionist" or "other" as they see fit, the only requirement being that no member may change their designation more than once during an Assembly session. The power-sharing system thus depends on the honesty of its participants. The system has been criticised by some, in particular the cross-community Alliance Party, as entrenching sectarian divisions. Alliance favours a change that would involve an end to official designations of identity and the taking of important votes on the basis of an ordinary super-majority. A particular bone of contention for them is that members designated as "other" have less say in the election of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, as it is decided by parallel consent.

I suppose Northern Ireland is a closer parallel to Lebanon.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2007 at 01:39:35 PM EST
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