The strategic impact of commissions on reform processes is as a relatively underexposed policy determinant. This paper scrutinizes how commissions affect the government policy potential. The argument is that setting up a mobilizing commission creates a new policy actor who can legitimize a reform frame. Therefore, commissions can under certain conditions work as a blame avoidance strategy. The crucial conditions are the commissions’ dependence on the government and the salience of the policy issue. The argument is tested partly by a classification of different types of commissions in regard to a commission typology. Then, by a comparison of the impact of commissions on reform processes (and absence hereof), including Velfærdskommissionen and Visionsudvalget. The conclusion is that independent mobilizing commissions work as a blame avoidance strategy because the government decides the preference configuration of the commission.
The article examines a proposition derived from the law of 1 over n, formulated by Weingast et al. (1981), that project size will increase with the number of political authorities (common pool size). This proposition has been challenged by Primo and Snyder (2008), who argue that a reversal of the law of 1 over n can be expected under certain conditions. The proposition is examined on a crucial case under least favorable conditions. The case is the municipal mergers which were part of the Danish Structural Reform, and the empirical analyses are based on municipal level data over the period 1996 to 2006. The empirical findings substantiate the proposition as originally formulated but only in the last year prior to the implementation of the mergers. The effects found are statistically and economically significant as well as robust across two different designs and different model specifications.
Causal inference is now at the forefront of empirical social science research. The article defines the causal relation and discusses which criteria are needed to identify if and how much one phenomenon can be said to cause another. It is demonstrated why the formal criterion should be the exogeneity of the independent variable or treatment and it is argued that (i) temporal order, (ii) theoretical explanation, and (iii) the absence of spuriosity can be imprecise criteria in practical research. An example illustrates how the design of the observational study in the social sciences is crucial to improve the prospects for causal inference.
Does EU membership affect coalition formation in national parliaments? Our analysis shows that this is the case in the Danish Folketing over time and across governmental periods and policy areas. We demonstrate that coalition formation in relation to legislation affected by the EU is different from the coalitions formed when it comes to ordinary domestic legislation. Furthermore, we find the existence of a stable coalition of “European parties”, which, besides negotiating the general agreements regarding the Danish EU policy, also provides the government with a majority behind the ratification of EU-initiated legislation in the Folketing. We argue that the variation in coalition patterns is caused by the government’s loss of agenda control, since the EU dictates the content and timing of this type of legislation. The government compensates for the reduced control by including a core of political parties in a close cooperation, similar to political agreements and settlements.
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