How to Get Coal Country to Vote for Climate Policy: The Effect of a ‘Just Transition Agreement’ on Spanish Election Results

85 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2023 Last revised: 10 Jul 2023

See all articles by Diane Bolet

Diane Bolet

University of Essex - Department of Government; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Fergus Green

University College London

Mikel Gonzalez-Eguino

Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3)

Date Written: July 07, 2023

Abstract

Enacting stringent climate policy has proven politically challenging, not least because of concentrated losses in fossil fuel-producing communities. “Just transition” strategies have been proposed to mitigate this distributional challenge. Yet little is known about how such strategies affect voting behavior. Using a mixed-method approach, we exploit a local climate policy in Spain—a “Just Transition Agreement” (JTA) to phase-out coalmining, support affected workers and invest in affected municipalities—which was negotiated by the incumbent Socialist Party (PSOE) government with affected unions and businesses shortly before a national election. A difference-in-differences study shows that PSOE’s vote share in coalmining municipalities increased at the 2019 election relative to similar municipalities, implying that the JTA was electorally successful. Further statistical tests and elite interviews suggest that this electoral boost was driven by unions’ support of the JTA. Our findings have implications for how parties can craft popular climate policy.

Keywords: climate change, energy, fossil fuels, Just Transition, Green New Deal, voting behavior, labor unions, comparative politics, mixed methods

Suggested Citation

Bolet, Diane and Green, Fergus and Gonzalez-Eguino, Mikel, How to Get Coal Country to Vote for Climate Policy: The Effect of a ‘Just Transition Agreement’ on Spanish Election Results (July 07, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4394195 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4394195

Diane Bolet (Contact Author)

University of Essex - Department of Government ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Fergus Green

University College London ( email )

29/30 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom

Mikel Gonzalez-Eguino

Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) ( email )

Gran Vía 35-2
Bilbao, Vizcaya 48009
Spain

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