News and events Tilburg University

Symposium on mayors and the rule of law well-attended

Published: 02nd July 2019 Last updated: 15th April 2020

Wim van de Donk, the King’s Commissioner in Brabant, is very concerned about the credibility of the the rule of law in our country. He voiced his concern on Friday, June 21, at the well-attended symposium ‘De burgemeester: vriend of vijand van de rechtsstaat?’ (‘Mayors, friends or enemies of the rule of law?’), organized by Niels Karsten (Public Law & Governance). As Van de Donck put it: “These days, crime pays. We’re nothing but a paper tiger. We’re a laughing stock.’

The symposium held in the Glass Auditorium of the Tilburg LocHal was attended by some 200 administrators, policy makers, scientists, and others interested in the topic. It was prompted by an essay written by organizer Dr. Niels Karsten, titled Mayors as friends or enemies of the rule of law (in Dutch), in which he deals with the vulnerable position of mayors as guardians of the quality of local democracy. Can a mayor, who is entirely dependent on the town- or city council, effectively guard administrative integrity? He also condemns the fact that in combatting organized crime some mayors are actively testing the limits of the law or even consciously ignore them.

At the symposium, made possible by vfonds, the Dutch National Foundation for Peace, Freedom, and Veteran Care, Prof. Stavros Zouridis concluded that, as a result of a serious enforcement deficit, mayors have been reduced to stopgaps in combatting the institutional crisis facing the rule of law. In his opinion, mayors first and foremost should be guardians of good governance, with a stronger external mandate and local support: ‘Reinforce the influence of the Crown on the appointment of mayors, rather than that of the council. Make him or her part of the local system of checks and balances.’

Read more (in Dutch) on the symposium in the Brabants Dagblad and Binnenlands Bestuur.

symposium burgemeesters en rechtsstaat