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The Electoral Consequences of Third Way Welfare State Reforms

The Electoral Consequences of Third Way Welfare State Reforms: Social Democracy's Transformation and its Political Costs

Christoph Arndt
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    The Electoral Consequences of Third Way Welfare State Reforms
    Book Description:

    In all advanced Western nations, policy-makers have implemented encompassing welfare state reforms in recent decades breaking with past welfare arrangements. In particular, social democracy engaged in significant policy change under the Third Way paradigm and broke with its traditional reputation on welfare that had built the ties with the core constituency in the 20th century. The Electoral Consequences of Third Way Welfare State Reforms: Social Democracy's Transformation and its Political Costs provides a comparative study of the electoral consequences of Third Way welfare state reforms. The book demonstrates that Third Way reforms went against the social policy preferences of social democracy's core voters and indeed produced an electoral setback for social democrats at the ballots. Moreover, and accounting for cross-national variation, the analysis shows that the nature of the setback is contingent on the electoral system and the party competition social democrats face when reforming the welfare state. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1721-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. 9-12)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. 13-14)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 15-18)
  6. Preface
    (pp. 19-22)
    Christoph Arndt
  7. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 23-32)

    In recent decades, policymakers in all advanced Western nations have implemented encompassing welfare state reforms, breaking with past welfare arrangements. Social democracy, in particular, engaged in significant policy change under the Third Way paradigm (Giddens 1998; Cuperus et al. 2001; Green-Pedersen et al. 2001; Clasen 2002; Bonoli & Powell 2004; Merkel et al. 2008; Huo 2009; Randall & Sloam 2009; Keman 2011). The transformation and modernisation of social democracy under Third Way agendas was a successful strategy in the early and mid-1990s, as many social democratic parties regained power after often long periods in opposition (Cuperus & Kandel 1998; Powell...

  8. 2 Theoretical Background
    (pp. 33-64)

    This chapter develops the theoretical framework for the analysis of the electoral consequences of Third Way welfare state reforms. It begins with an outline of social democracy’s transformation under the Third Way, and the background to this transformation. Then, it theorises the role of social policy in the formation of the social democratic core constituency’s partisan alignment; delineates the potential dealignment that is risked by social democracy if it engages in policy change that goes against the core constituency’s political preferences; and conceptualises the social democratic core constituency in terms of a class framework. It continues with a discussion of...

  9. 3 Design and Methods
    (pp. 65-76)

    This chapter describes and discusses the design of the study, the data and the methods used for the empirical analysis in the following chapters. I begin with a delineation of the case selection strategy that allows me to test the propositions from Chapter 2. Following this, I describe the measures, concepts and data that are used to analyse the policy of the social democratic parties under review and the labour market reforms implemented in terms of the recommodification framework outlined in the previous chapter. Next, I present the statistical methods and the data sources applied to study the postulated electoral...

  10. 4 United Kingdom
    (pp. 77-98)

    This chapter examines the proposition that an FPTP electoral system only produces a non-voter trade-off for Third Way social democrats, as it effectively constrains the electoral fortunes of those challengers that have been identified as dangerous in the theoretical framework. The United Kingdom is used as a typical case on the basis that the Labour Party should face different opportunities and constraints to engage in welfare state reforms compared to its continental sister parties, thanks to the British single-member plurality electoral system (e.g. Kitschelt 2001a; Randall & Sloam 2009). In this respect, Randall & Sloam (2009) have claimed that the...

  11. 5 Germany
    (pp. 99-126)

    This chapter investigates what happens when Third Way social democrats are confronted with a left-socialist challenger under a PR system. The case is that of Germany, where the social democrats (SPD) engaged in path-breaking labour market reforms and faced the Left Party as a new competitor due to this policy change. The latter party fits the type of ‘dangerous left challenger’, as this chapter will illustrate. We also examine the competition from a mainstream Christian democratic party, as the SPD’s biggest competitor. Hence, the chapter examines the electoral consequences of the welfare state reforms introduced by social democratic governments in...

  12. 6 Denmark
    (pp. 127-152)

    This chapter examines what happens when Third Way social democrats are confronted with a serious challenger on the authoritarian right. Moreover, the chapter analyses the credibility considerations for competitor parties, as mentioned in the theoretical chapter. This will be done by examining the electoral consequences for Danish social democracy (Socialdemokratiet i Danmark, SD) since the mid-1990s. Replacing a centre-right government in 1993, Danish social democracy engaged in path-breaking labour market reforms under a Third Way agenda. The SD has traditionally faced a competitor on the Left, the Socialist People’s Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti, SF). In addition, it has been challenged by...

  13. 7 Sweden
    (pp. 153-182)

    The Swedish social democratic party (Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Arbetareparti, SAP) is often seen as a prototypical social democratic party. Due to its electoral strength, the SAP was the dominant Swedish party in the 20th century, with long and often uninterrupted incumbencies allowing the party to realise its ambitious social policy objectives (e.g. Svensson 1994; Arter 1999a; 2003; Immergut 2002). Similarly, the Swedish welfare state is regarded as the closest match to Esping-Andersen’s ideal type of social democratic welfare state model (1990), with its generous universal social security schemes leading to an extraordinary degree of decommodification (Korpi & Palme 1998).

    This chapter...

  14. 8 Comparative Summary
    (pp. 183-200)

    This chapter summarises the findings of the preceding chapters and puts them in a comparative setting. It reviews the empirical support for the theoretical framework and the party competition argument made in Chapter 2 and addresses the extent to which the developments in the four countries converge and diverge. Rival explanations and developments that seem to diverge from my framework are then discussed.

    The book’s very general point of departure was that social democratic parties that have engaged in recommodifying welfare state reforms risk being punished by the electorate, on the grounds that social democrats have engaged in policies that...

  15. 9 Discussion
    (pp. 201-214)

    This book has investigated the electoral consequences faced by social democrats after having transformed themselves under Third Way agendas and reformed the welfare state in ways that are contrary to traditional social democratic principles such as decommodification, solidarity and egalitarianism (Esping-Andersen 1985, 1990). Esping-Andersen conceptualised the alignment to social democratic parties as a match between their supply of social policy and the demands of the working class and lower white-collar employees. Thus, the decommodification of the wage earner has traditionally been a priority for social democracy, as these policies bound social democracy to its core constituency.

    Applying a partisan politics...

  16. Appendix A: Appendix to Chapter 4 (United Kingdom)
    (pp. 215-219)
  17. Appendix B: Appendix to Chapter 5 (Germany)
    (pp. 220-225)
  18. Appendix C: Appendix to Chapter 6 (Denmark)
    (pp. 226-231)
  19. Appendix D: Appendix to Chapter 7 (Sweden)
    (pp. 232-238)
  20. Notes
    (pp. 239-248)
  21. References
    (pp. 249-274)
  22. Index
    (pp. 275-278)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-281)