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Majority election programmes threaten rule of law

The rule of law is regularly under pressure. Therefore, it is important to gain insight into how political parties want to shape the rule of law in the future. has analysed the election programmes of the seven Flemish political parties represented in the federal parliament during the past coalition period. A group of experts assessed programme points without knowing which party had drafted which point. After an individual evaluation by each expert, together they reached a consensus on which proposals strengthen, potentially threaten or actually affect the rule of law.

Most of the election manifestos contain items that pose a direct threat to the rule of law, no party offers 100% guarantee on its principles. The rule of law does not appear to be a quiet possession but a verb. You can download the results below at the bottom of this page.

Take care of the rule of law and the rule of law will take care of you. The rule of law protects us from arbitrariness, abuse of power and corruption thanks to institutions and rules.
- Peter Callens, president at

What is the rule of law?

In a rule of law, citizens enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in legal rules, both international and domestic. Citizens may assume that the government also respects rights and freedoms and applies the rules without arbitrariness, including to themselves. Every citizen, if his rights and freedoms are violated, can appeal to an independent and incorruptible judge and a freely chosen, independent lawyer to assert his rights. The rule of law provides each of us with the assurance that our rights and freedoms will be respected.

All election programmes contain positive proposals that strengthen the rule of law. These cover topics such as respect for fundamental rights, an independent judiciary and the fight against discrimination.

However, worrying trends have also been identified. These include limiting access to justice, especially for vulnerable groups, increasing restrictions on privacy, for example, and non-compliance with European and other international rules.

Political parties must protect rule of law expresses concern about these developments.

"Among other things, increasing restrictions on privacy and access to justice undermine the very essence of our society, The rule of law is the basis of a free society, and curtailment of fundamental rights and freedoms must be weighed very carefully."
- Nadia Van Baelen, director of rule of law at stresses the importance of European obligations and respecting decisions of European and other international legal bodies, such as the European Court of Human Rights. Some political parties indicate that respect for human rights and international law is central to their programme, others seem to want to reduce or minimise acquired rights rather.

"If politicians ignore or minimise these decisions, it will damage confidence in the legal system, undermine legal certainty and thus erode the rule of law."
- Peter Callens, president at

Independent research

The study was conducted by leading experts, namely professors Patricia Popelier, Patrick Peeters and Wilfried Rauws, chief of staff Kati Verstrepen and honorary justice Frederik Evers, and offers an evaluation of the issues affecting the rule of law in the election programmes. The party proposals were anonymised to ensure a neutral analysis and the views expressed in the report are unanimously supported. stresses that it is not a voting guide, but a tool to draw attention to crucial aspects affecting the rule of law.

"Our concern is to protect and strengthen the rule of law. This starts with awareness and commitment from all stakeholders, first and foremost the elected representatives."
- Nadia Van Baelen, director of rule of law at

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