Many European democracies are still some way off from achieving equal gender representation at the highest echelons of political power. Nonetheless, over the past decades the number of women holding ministerial portfolios in government cabinets has increased. How does the growing number of women in leadership positions shape the politics of governments? In their article “How women in the executive influence government stability” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Svenja Krauss and Corinna Kroeber offer evidence indicating that women in positions of power in the executive branch bolster government stability. Drawing on previous research showing that women in leadership positions are more likely to favour compromise and consensual solutions to conflicts than their male colleagues, Svenja and Corinna argue that governments run by female prime ministers and cabinets with a higher share of female members are more likely to avoid early termination due to internal conflicts. Using original data from 27 European countries between 1945 and 2018, Svenja and Corinna show that while there is no discernible effect of female prime ministers on government duration, cabinets with a higher proportion of female members are more resilient and less likely to face early termination than governments dominated by men. These findings suggest that “female ministers are able to introduce different behavioural norms and change the nature of politics towards a more compromise-oriented setting.”
Following the 2008 financial crisis, administrations in EU member states faced incentives to prop up their domestic industries and shelter national economies from the pressures of transnational markets. These incentives set the stage for tensions with the European Commission, which may allow ‘horizontal’ state investments benefiting overall European competitiveness, but polices ‘vertical’ state aid favouring domestic companies over single market competitors. In her article “Aiding the state: administrative capacity and creative compliance with European state aid rules in new member states” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Nicole Lindstrom finds that the Hungarian government, usually a vocal proponent of state intervention, reported high proportions of horizontal state aid in the aftermath of the crisis. Nicole contrasts this finding with evidence of higher proportions of post-crisis vertical state aid in Estonia, an otherwise paradigmatic neoliberal state. Drawing on interviews with Hungarian and Estonian state aid officials as well as members of the European Commission to explain this counterintuitive pattern, Nicole offers a novel insight into the role administrative capacity plays in EU member states’ compliance with state aid rules: Skilled civil servants in the Hungarian administration shared the political leadership’s ideological commitment to assist domestic industries and facilitated the appearance of rule-conforming behaviour, while in practice implementing policies that ran counter to the EU’s objectives. Nicole’s findings show that “national administrators are important but hitherto understudied agents in navigating growing tensions between the uniform application of supranational free market rules and increased domestic politicization of the core incentives and obligations underlying the single market project.”
Thirty years after the revolutions of 1989, a divide between Western and Central Europe remains apparent. In his article “Caught between 1945 and 1989: collective memory and the rise of illiberal democracy in postcommunist Europe” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Peter Verovšek argues that the commitment to the rule of law and protection of individual rights in West European democracies contrasts with the emphasis on the nation’s popular sovereignty and republican majority will characterising the approach to democracy in much of Central Europe. Peter notes that differences in societies’ collective memory, centred on two different historical ruptures, help explain the diverging conceptions of democracy in Western and Central Europe. While Western Europeans turn to the symbolic date of 1945, representing a repudiation of nationalism and the importance of protecting individual freedoms from the state, collective memory in Central Europe is shaped by the fall of communism in 1989, ending an oppresive political system imposed by an external power. Peter argues that “the differing memory cultures in these two regions help to explain why the West emphasizes the liberal protection of rights by a neutral, internationally embedded state, whereas postcommunist Europe emphasizes majoritarian voting and national sovereignty.”
2020 hasn’t exactly been littered with moments to celebrate, so one more reason to cherish them when they do come around: The 2019 Journal Citation Reports release by Clarivate Analytics sees JEPP’s impact factor increase from 3.457 in 2018 to 4.177 in 2019, the journal’s highest score in its 27-year history! JEPP is now ranked 7/180 in the Political Science category and 3/48 in the Public Administration category.
JEPP was also able to hold on to its third place in the 2020 Google Scholar Metrics ranking for Political Science, with an h-index of 55, up from 51 (only APSR and AJPS have higher scores).
To top off the good news, JEPP is also doing very well on CiteScore provided by Scopus, with a score of 7.7, which implies that JEPP is ranked 2/157 in Public Administration and 16/1243 in Sociology and Political Science.
We won’t tire of thanking our family of authors who have chosen JEPP as the venue to publish their research, our board members and reviewers for their outstanding and continuing support, and our readers without whom JEPP would have never made it this far!
The JEPP Reviewer Prize provides special recognition to our colleagues for their selfless investment as peer-reviewers, offering guidance to authors to improve their work, to us as editors to take well-informed decisions on manuscripts, and hence to ensure that JEPP’s standards continue to be high. This year we have the pleasure to award the prize to two cherished colleagues who have supported JEPP for decades: They have rarely declined our review requests, and always provided submitting authors and us editors with detailed and constructive comments.
We are thus very happy to award the reviewer prizes to:
Rachel Epstein (University of Denver),
R. Daniel Kelemen (Rutgers University).
Congratulations to our prize winners!
Developments around EU healthcare services law have been characterized by a puzzling phenomenon. Buzzing political activity in Brussels and member state officials vying to shape EU law in accordance with their respective preferences contrasts with minimal practical changes in national healthcare systems. In their article “Destabilization rights and restabilization politics: Policy and political reactions to European Union healthcare services law” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Scott Greer and Simone Rauscher Singh explain this disjunction. Drawing on evidence from interviews with German and British public health officials, members of EU institutions and lobbyists, Scott and Simone show that the observed pattern of a broadening political activity at the European level and few actual changes on the ground is a consequence of policy-makers’ strategic choices. Given broad compliance with the patchy legal framework of EU healthcare law is costly for member states, healthcare policy-makers opt for the smallest possible change necessary to comply whenever a national practice is at odds with EU law. Relative to compliance, stepping up their political engagement at the European level to wrest back control over healthcare policy from EU institutions is far less costly for member states. Scott and Simone’s analysis shows that member states’ political engagement in Brussels does not necessarily imply their preference for European policies on healthcare services but “reflects states’ desire to restabilize healthcare law.”
Ever since the 1950s, EU member states have sought to protect national competences to organize, finance and provide healthcare from integration at the European level. Despite these efforts, the EU has a become a significant player in public health, regulating key questions on the access to and delivery of healthcare in member states. In their article “The making of a European healthcare union: a federalist perspective” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Hans Vollaard, Hester van de Bovenkamp and Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen explain how the EU attained authority in public health against all odds, and offer an outlook on a European healthcare union in the making. Hans, Hester and Dorte show that the free movement of goods, services and workers allowed the European Commission to expand its involvement in healthcare, complemented by the Court of Justice’s favourable interpretations of EU healthcare legislation. Member states’ use of EU fora to pursue voluntary co-operations in the health sector and their willingness to delegate competences to the EU-level in exchange for financial support further facilitated the development of a European healthcare union. However, Hans, Hester and Dorte caution that this union remains fragile. While EU officials see the Europeanization of healthcare as an “instrument to foster a European sense of belonging among the citizens of the EU member states”, evidence that a European healthcare union cultivates citizens’ loyalty toward the EU appears thin at best.
When elections are around the corner, incumbent governments face incentives to ramp up their redistributive spending to attract the support of voters, giving rise to so-called political budget cycles (PBCs). In their article “Clientelistic budget cycles: evidence from health policy in the Italian regions” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Francesco Stolfi and Mark Hallerberg argue that clientelistic fiscal expansions prior to elections are more prevalent in jurisdictions with few employment opportunities offered by the private sector. Clientelistic public expenditures are a particularly promising strategy for incumbents seeking re-election in poorer jurisdictions with a large share of voters relying on jobs in the public sector to support their livelihoods. Francesco and Mark support their claim with original data on income and public health personnel spending in Italy’s 21 regions between 1989 and 2012. Their analysis shows that prior to elections regions with higher per-capita incomes were less likely to see increases in public health personnel spending than poorer regions. Francesco and Mark conclude that “[i]f we take into account the incentives of incumbents and voters in poorer societies, then clientelism becomes a powerful factor explaining differences in the extent of PBCs between countries at different levels of development.”
By Edoardo Bressanelli, Christel Koop & Christine Reh
As the unfolding coronavirus crisis powerfully shows, long gone are the days when EU decisions – including decisions not to act – left Europe’s citizens indifferent, and when the supranational was largely irrelevant for public opinion and electoral politics across the member states. Indeed, the current pandemic is only the last in a string of existential crises that have struck and unsettled the Union over a decade. These crises have politicised Europe, tested the endurance and survival of the supranational system to its core, and put EU-level actors under unprecedented pressure. Our Special Issue “EU Actors Under Pressure: Politicisation and Depoliticisation as Strategic Responses” explores how and why actors respond to the various, sometimes competing, ‘bottom up’ demands.
Our collection challenges the view – captured most prominently by the post-functionalist idea of a “constraining dissensus” – that domestic contestation necessarily limits EU-level room for manoeuvre. Strategic adaptation to the new, politically charged environment, we argue, opens space, too, for ‘enabling dissensus’. Actors may opt for self-restraint, but they may also seek to capitalise on pressures to advance their substantive goals, to expand their competences, and to bolster their long-term survival. As Frank Schimmelfennig argues in his contribution, EU-level actors have agency in response to bottom-up pressures, and they engage in “strategic politicisation management”.
In our introduction, we contend that actors will choose the response most likely to further their shared goal: the survival of the Union and, therefore, the long-term preservation (and, potentially, expansion) of their own powers. Behaviour at the supranational level, we argue, is based on how EU-level actors perceive and process the pressures from domestic politics. If acting ‘politically’ is acceptable for national political elites and the broader public, EU-level actors will attempt to politicise decision-making, behaviour or outcomes at the supranational level; if not, they will pursue depoliticisation strategies.
Depoliticisation strategies aim to ‘reclaim the shadow’ and to make new conflict over integration less visible and polarising. This is the case for the EU’s Court of Justice which, as Blauberger and Martinsen show in their contribution, engages in judicial self-restraint under high levels of contestation. This is also true, partially, for the European Commission, which, assertively, uses its power to withdraw legislation when facing domestic opposition (Reh, Bressanelli and Koop). Moreover, in the process of reforming the EU’s economic governance, Franchino and Mariotto point to a shift towards the more technocratic and implementation-focused supranational level.
By contrast, politicisation strategies are designed to move matters into the heart of politics. Hobolt and Wratil show that the Council of the EU shifts away from its consensual logic when policy issues are salient domestically; Moschella, Pinto and Martocchia Diodati observe that the European Central Bank, under conditions of domestic contestation, moves communication away from an exclusive focus on monetary policy. Bunea demonstrates that the Commission has recently increased openness and consultation beyond established stakeholders in inter-institutional negotiations, whilst Reh, Bressanelli and Koop find that an under-pressure Commission uses decisions not to withdraw legislation to pursue its own ‘responsive’ agenda. Finally, Kelemen explores a paradox of EU politicisation: a leader like Orban benefits from membership in the European People’s Party while consolidating his illiberal regime in Hungary. Growing Euroscepticism and the domestic politicisation of Europe do not necessarily lead to a stand-still. As our Special Issue shows, EU-level actors – facing intense pressure on the system they serve and on their own existence – choose differentiated strategic responses. Some limit and depoliticise EU action; others politicise and, even, empower the supranational level. As yet another crisis hits Europe, we will soon see which (de)politicisation strategies actors like the Commission and the ECB choose to pursue. ‘Business as usual’ would be a very risky and unlikely option indeed.
Call for Papers Proposals
Allan McConnell, University of Sydney; Alastair Stark, University of Queensland (Special Issue Guest Editors)
For a special edition of the Journal of European Public Policy, we invite proposals for papers that explore the policy responses that have addressed the COVID-19 crisis. This special issue will seek to deliver insights into the nature and the effectiveness of national and/or international crisis responses to the disease through the application of public policy, governance and crisis management perspectives.
COVID-19 is a highly transmittable and potentially fatal coronavirus. The virus originated in Wuhan in China in December 2019. By late March 2020, there were over 720,000 cases world-wide in 177 countries and regions, with the number of cases escalating on a daily basis. In this short time span, the virus has created a global public health crisis that is unprecedented in living memory. Governments throughout the world have transformed rapidly into a ‘war time-like’ crisis-mode, attempting to diagnose, mitigate and suppress the virus, as well as moderate the cascading effects of disease control on the economy, healthcare systems and vulnerable populations. For millions of individual citizens, particularly those who are highly vulnerable physically, economically, and socially, we are witnessing extraordinary levels of public fear and anxiety. Response measures by governments facing unprecedented stress, have included travel bans, curfews, lock-downs, school closures and emergency budget stimuli and financial aid packages.
The scope of potential contributions is enormous, but we particularly welcome contributions which address responses to COVID-19 using theories, concepts and frameworks that are embedded within the discipline of public policy. Possible areas for empirical analysis are identified below, but we would welcome proposals that seek to examine any aspect of governmental responses to COVID-19 either in individual countries, or via comparative analysis/multi-country illustrations. Response includes pre-emptive responses, as well as responses in the acute stage. Potential themes include but are not limited to:
- Warning signs, anticipation and pandemic preparedness e.g. agenda/institutional/political biases filtering out potential threat of COVID-19, contingency planning based on prior experience (SARS, MERS, Ebola), training/exercises, early interventions or lack thereof) and strategic approaches (such as Singapore/South Korea, US).
- The nature of COVID-19 as a policy challenge e.g. sensemaking of the threat(s) involved in the crisis; ramping up of resources; addressing transboundary threats and spill-over effects across a variety of policy sub-systems; COVID-19 as a super wicked policy problem.
- Policy design and decision making under crisis conditions e.g. decision making under high threat conditions and extreme uncertainty; moral and ethical issues in decision making; the nature of policy tools for COVID-19 crisis management.
- Policy implementation and street-level behaviour e.g. the gap between central policy objectives and local reality; the effectiveness of policy tools on the ground; contingent policy formulation at the front-line.
- Evaluation, learning and accountability e.g. historical lessons ignored/used in COVID-19; intra-crisis learning during the emergency; inter-country learning and mimicry across borders; evaluating response measures prospectively and retrospectively; the politics of post-crisis accountability.
- Narratives, language and symbolic policy output e.g. crisis communication and the role of persuasion in relation to policy measures such as social distancing and panic buying; the role or narratives and metaphors – from war and identity to trajectories and resilience.
- Institutions and governance e.g. the role of emergency powers, inter-governmental and inter-organisational coordination; national policy styles and crisis behaviour; the role of governance traditions during crises.
- Political leadership e.g. leadership personality types and behaviour (such as Trump, Johnson, Merkel, Varadkar); crisis leadership challenges; leadership strategies and their effectiveness.
Expressions of interest consisting of a title, author(s) names and affiliation, and a short abstract (no more than 300 words) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by 1st June 2020. Successful authors should have a full article draft by 18 September 2020 with final submissions expected by 27 November 2020 (8,000 words maximum, including all figures, tables and references). All other inquiries ashould be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.