Political Violence and Conflict Resolution in Belgium: A Success Story?

Led by Rachel Gjelsvik Haug

Jan 2004 – May 2005

MA thesis in political science, Department of Sociology and Political Science, NTNU. Main thesis advisor is Ola Listhaug, NTNU.

This thesis focuses on the peaceful and apparently successful conflict resolution of violent internal conflict in Belgium following decades of open conflict between the French and Flemish speaking populations of Wallonia and Flanders respectively.

The thesis is divided into three main sections: Historical, Institutional and Values.

The historical overview is critical for understanding the immensity and seriousness of the Belgian conflict, and the underlying dimensions of political conflict in Belgium will be discussed within this framework. A focus on institutional change as the Belgian method of conflict resolution deserves attention through a separate section, as much important research on this topic has been presented recently, specifically on the topic of different democratic institutions. The final section will emphasize the underlying values of the Flemish and French speaking populations as represented by the Eurobarometer, the European Values Studies and the European Social Survey. A quantitative analysis will make use of data compiled from these three studies in order to track changes over time in underlying values of the people of Belgium. This is important, as it will allow us to see whether there has been actual conflict resolution through institutional changes, or if the latter only mask potentially latent conflicts as the underlying values haven’t changed.

The thesis was completed in the spring of 2005.

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