Party politics and military deployments: explaining political consensus on Belgian military intervention

Tim Haesebrouck*, Yf Reykers, Daan Fonck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


While a comprehensive body of research provides evidence that politics does not always stop at the water’s edge, the question “when does politics stop at the water’s edge” has remained largely unanswered. This article addresses this gap in the literature by examining the level of agreement in Belgium’s parliament on military deployment decisions. More specifically, the uncontested decisions to participate in the 2011 Libya intervention and the air strikes against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq are compared with the contested decision to participate in strike operations against IS over Syrian territory. The results of our study indicate that a broad parliamentary consensus will emerge if the domestic political context forces left- and right-leaning parties into negotiating a compromise that takes into account their preferences regarding the scope of the operation and if left-leaning parties have no reason to oppose the operation because it pursues inclusive goals and its international legal justification is not contested.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Security
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Sep 2021


  • ideology
  • military interventions
  • parliamentary contestation
  • party politics
  • use of force
  • Military intervention
  • IRAQ

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