Beyond Linguistic Peripheral Elites: The Provincial Imbalance of Cabinet Ministers in Belgium

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Despite the creation of regions and communities in the second half of the 20th century for resolving ethnic tensions between the French- and Flemish-speaking communities, provinces are still relevant to understand contemporary Belgian politics. Observing provincial political dynamics is essential to understand multilevel political elite dynamics and territorial cleavages in contemporary Belgium. For instance, political parties are internally structured in provincial federations, and federal elections rely on provincial electoral districts. Combined with constitutional factors such as language and region, this article investigates the provincial origins of ministerial elites in all Belgian federal cabinets between 1980 and 2020. It observes that provinces are far from being perfectly present in a balanced manner in the federal government: some provinces are overrepresented while others – in particular large provinces – are underrepresented. This provincial imbalance is stable over time and independent on the types of cabinet but can be explained by party strategies and vote-seeking considerations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1001-1018
Number of pages18
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number5
StatePublished - 10 Aug 2023


  • Belgium
  • cabinet formation
  • geographical origin
  • ministerial appointments
  • provinces


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