The Politics of Justification
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The Politics of Justification

By Christoffer Green-Pedersen
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Book Description

The Politics of Justification is an investigation of welfare retrenchment in Denmark and the Netherlands, 1982-1998. Welfare retrenchment is politically highly controversial, but still governments do retrench. This book argues that governments can implement retrenchment if they can achieve a party political consensus allowing them to frame retrenchment in a way that makes it seems justified to the electorate. In the Netherlands, such a consensus emerged in the mid 1980s due to the power of the CDA. It has allowed Dutch government to implement a number of welfare retrenchments. In Denmark, a consensus did not emerge until the Social Democratic Party re-entered government in 1993 explaining why the Danish welfare state has seen less retrenchment than the Dutch one. With its focus on the strategies of the political parties, the book differs from many other studies of the subject focusing on the role of political institutions.

The Politics of Justification onderzoekt de bezuinigingen op de sociale zekerheid die plaatsvonden in Nederland en Denemarken in de periode 1982-1998. Het korten op sociale voorzieningen ligt politiek uiterst gevoelig, maar toch snijden regeringen in hun uitgaven. Green-Pedersen bepleit dat regeringen bezuinigingen mogen doorvoeren als ze een partijpolitieke consensus bereiken die het mogelijk maakt de uitgavevermindering zó te formuleren dat het aanvaardbaar is voor het electoraat. In Nederland deed die situatie zich halverwege de jaren '80 voor door de macht van het CDA. In Denemarken daarentegen ontstond een dergelijke consensus pas in 1993 toen de Sociaal-Democratische Partij (SP) zijn herintrede deed in de regering. Dat verklaart waarom de Deense verzorgingsstaat minder bezuinigingen heeft gekend dan de Nederlandse.

Table of Contents
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of abbreviations
  • 1 Introduction
    • The arguments in brief
    • The structure of the book
  • 2 From theories of expansion to theories of retrenchment
    • Theories of welfare-state expansion
    • Theories of welfare-state retrenchment
  • 3 A framework for government choice on retrenchment
    • Political parties: their objectives and incentives for retrenchment
    • A justification strategy of blame avoidance
    • Systems of party competition and their effects on the possibilities of pursuing
    • Connection to the labour market: which social-security schemes will be retrenched the most?
    • The theoretical argument in brief
  • 4 Research strategy and research design
    • Denmark and the Netherlands – a most similar systems design
    • The choice of social-security schemes
    • The choice of time period
    • Definition and measurement of retrenchment
    • Some hypotheses
  • 5 Retrenchments in Denmark and the Netherlands
    • Retrenchment in Denmark and the Netherlands
    • Actual variation in extent of retrenchment
    • The match between the actual and expected variation in retrenchment
  • 6 Dutch Politics and welfare-state retrenchment. How party competition produced consensus
    • Depillarisation and fumbling response to the oil crises
    • The first and second Lubbers governments: No-nonsense policy and an emerging consensus
    • The third Lubbers government: WAO affair and the fall of the CDA
    • Purple governments: centrist policy without the CDA
    • The Dutch case – a general view
  • 7 Danish politics and welfare-state retrenchment:The difficulties of a right-wing government and the possibilities of a left-wing government
    • Landslide election and fumbling socio-economic policy
    • Right-wing governments and the difficulties of welfare-state retrenchment
    • 1993-1998: the possibilities of social democratic-led governments
    • The Danish case – a general view
  • 8 The evidence on balance and some quibbles
    • The empirical support for the framework on balance
    • Alternative explanations
    • Balance
  • 9 Party politics matter – summary and implications
    • The main findings
    • The implications for the retrenchment debate
    • The politics of miracles and the dilemmas of European Social Democracy
  • Appendix
  • Summary
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
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