In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, access to medicines has moved centre-stage in national health policy debates. One prominent point of contention is the development of a permanent system of EU joint procurement. Since the issue of joint procurement is politically contested, Sharon Baute and Anniek de Ruijter investigate potential dividing lines in their recently published article “EU health solidarity in times of crisis: explaining public preferences towards EU risk pooling for medicines”. Drawing on data from a conjoint experiment carried out among 10,000 respondents from five European member states, the authors find that Euroscepticism most strongly explains individual preferences over the design of EU risk pooling for medicines. By contrast, egalitarian ideology plays only a minor role. Beyond the pro versus anti EU-integration divide, the specificities of the COVID-19 pandemic raise a crisis-driven rationale through which citizens evaluate the desirability of alternative EU risk pooling designs. Across the whole spectrum of ideological and EU integration attitudes, the support for EU health solidarity strongly depends on medical need. Overall, these findings lend support for policymakers aiming to integrate welfare policy and build a stronger Social Europe.
Interest groups frequently attempt to influence public policy by lobbying legislators. For decades, it has been debated whether lobbying benefits or undermines the democratic process. On the one hand, it may privilege some public preferences over others. On the other hand, it may help legislators to better understand citizens’ interests. In their recent article “Interest group tactics and legislative behaviour: how the mode of communication matters“, Oliver Huwyler and Shane Martin argue that the answer depends on how precisely lobbying is shaping legislative behaviour. Building on social presence theory, they expect that lobbying tactics with more direct contact are more likely to influence legislators’ behaviour. The analysis of all 217,886 lobbying attempts in the Irish Parliament between 2015 and 2019 and 167,347 parliamentary questions tabled by Irish legislators shows that lobbying tactics where communication is synchronous and rich in non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, and vocalics, is indeed more effective. In their conclusion, the authors hint at potential implications for representative democracy: “For better or worse, lobbying impacts what legislators do, and different communication tactics can be more or less effective.“
How do governments convince profit-oriented banks to provide liquidity to firms in need? To shed light on that question, Elsa Clara Massoc analyzes the elaboration and implementation of state-guaranteed credit programs (SGCPs) during the COVID-19 crisis in her article “Having banks ‘play along’ state-bank coordination and state-guaranteed credit programs during the COVID-19 crisis in France and Germany”. The COVID-19 crisis constitutes a particularly puzzling case as no bank would, from a commercial point of view, willfully grant cheap and copious credit to struggling firms in the context of a global pandemic. SGCPs were specifically designed to make banks do so, nevertheless. Building on a comparative process analysis of SGCPs in France and Germany, Elsa shows that it has been less costly for the French government to convince their banks to provide liquidity as German banks obtained better terms for their participation in their national SCGP. The variation stems from differences in the institutionalized state-bank modes of coordination: In France, state-bank coordination is characterized by mutual trust among a small number of socially homogeneous groups used to close cooperation. By contrast, state-bank coordination is weaker in Germany. As a consequence, state officials have to resort to monetary incentives to persuade banks. State-led credit allocation may prove an essential tool in maintaining modern states’ capacity to govern in economic crises, and different modes of coordination between states and banks are instructive for how states are able to meet that challenge.