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Le jugement de l’opinion publique et la répression
des provocations collectives non suivies d’effet
en Belgique (1831–1914)

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The judgment of public opinion and the repression of ineffective criminal provocation in Belgium (1831-1914) – Amongst others, the preoccupation of the 1830–1831 Belgian National Congress with national public opinion as its political foundation, was reflected in the way it thought about criminal provocation. When no effect was given to seditious articles or subversive speeches, they considered them not to be punishable, since public opinion had not bothered to heed their incitements. However, the rise of the labour movement urged the Belgian authorities to change their policy towards this kind of provocations. In order to avoid the long-term effects of the rebellious messages of socialist leaders and anarchist rioters, criminal provocation was qualified an autonomous offence. The way judicial inquiries were held revealed the concern to agitate public opinion as little as possible. This development is clearly marked by a regained sense of pragmatism and a loss of confidence in the judgement of public opinion.


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