Under Pressure: Argumentative Patterns of Pressures and Opportunities for Welfare State Reforms in Three Affluent Welfare States
39 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2013 Last revised: 15 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 14, 2016
Do political leaders actively put welfare state “reform pressures,” such as mass unemployment or population ageing, on the public agenda at the outset of election campaigns? Do politicians publicly couple these pressures with related policy solutions, such as retrenchment, cost containment, social investment or a defence of the status quo? We analyse 18 speeches held by prime ministerial candidates at the party congresses before national elections in Germany, Norway and Sweden (2000-2010). Even in these three affluent and comparatively sustainable, welfare states, reform pressures are frequently put on the public agenda. Party leaders either concentrate on more popular, less painful, policy solutions and aspects of ongoing welfare state reform. Or, they refrain altogether from connecting pressures with policy. While citizens are exposed to the basic idea that the welfare state is under pressure, they are not exposed to the full range of policies to expect after elections.
Keywords: welfare state, Germany, Norway, Sweden, parties, reforms, content analysis, speeches, content analysis
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