Crisis and Policy Reformcraft Advocacy Coalitions and Crisis-induced Change in Swedish Nuclear Energy Policy
Abstract: This dissertation consists of three interrelated essays examining the role of crisis events in Swedish nuclear energy policymaking. The study takes stock of the idea of ‘crisis exceptionalism’ raised in the literature, which postulates that crisis events provide openings for major policy change. In an effort to explain crisis-induced outcomes in Swedish nuclear energy policy, each essay explores and develops theoretical assumptions derived from the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF). The introduction discusses the ACF and other theoretical perspectives accentuating the role of crisis in policymaking and identifies three explanations for crisis-induced policy outcomes: minority coalition mobilization, learning, and strategic action. Essay I analyzes the nature and development of the Swedish nuclear energy subsystem. The results contradict the ACF assumption that corporatist systems nurture narrow subsystems and small advocacy coalitions, but corroborate the assumption that advocacy coalitions remain stable over time. While this analysis identifies temporary openings in policymaking venues and in the advocacy coalition structure, it is argued that these developments did not affect crisis policymaking. Essay II seeks to explain the decision to initiate a referendum on nuclear power following the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. Internal government documents and other historical records indicate that strategic considerations superseded learning as the primary explanation in this case. Essay III conducts an in-depth examination of Swedish policymaking in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl accident in an effort to explain the government’s decision not to accelerate the nuclear power phaseout. Recently disclosed government documents show that minority coalition mobilization was insufficient to explain this decision. In this case, rational learning and strategic action provided a better explanation. The main theoretical contribution derived from the three essays is to posit the intensity and breadth of political conflict, strategic action, and analogical reasoning as key factors affecting the propensity for crisis-induced policy change.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE DISSERTATION. (in PDF format)