Department of Political Science

Public policy-making and risk profiles: Scandinavian centre-right governments after the turn of the millennium

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Christoph Arndt, Denmark
Recent theoretical advances in the welfare state literature have outlined the differences between labour market- and life course-related schemes as centre-right parties have difficulties in enacting retrenchment on life course-related schemes because they concern every voter. In contrast, the textbook risk profile of centre-right parties’ electorates allows them to cut back on labour market-related schemes since these parties get negligible support from workers and low income voters. Conducting a comparative case study of recent Danish and Swedish centre-right governments, this article analyses the stylised assumptions on the party level by comparing two similar centre-right governments which differed in their voter coalitions’ risk profile. I first argue that centre-right governments are generally constrained by the popular entrenchment of the universal welfare state when it comes to life course-related welfare schemes. Second, I argue that the leeway on labour market-related schemes is contingent on the actual risk profile of the centre-right’s electorate, and thereby move beyond the stylised assumptions from recent literature. In this respect, the Danish centre-right did, in contrast to its Swedish counterpart, gain power with an unusual high support among working class voters which should constrain its leeway on labour market-related schemes. I find that the Danish centre-right governments after 2001 acted with bound hands on all major welfare schemes thanks to its high working class backing, and refrained from outright cutbacks on both labour market- and life course-related schemes until 2011 except for labour market outsiders. In contrast, the Swedish centre-right had a much lower working class backing and therefore engaged in some outright cutbacks of labour market-related schemes such as unemployment benefits directly after taking office 2006. The centre-right’s actual voter coalition’s risk profile is thus an important determinant for its public policies and its leeway for policy-seeking
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Political Science Review
Pages (from-to)495-518
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventECPR Joint Sessions 11-14 March 2013 - Mainz, Germany
Duration: 11 Mar 201315 Mar 2013


WorkshopECPR Joint Sessions 11-14 March 2013

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 75149262