In his thesis, Björn Bremer explains this puzzling response of social democratic parties to the economic crisis by studying the popular and elite politics of austerity.
His answer builds on a framework that combines a focus on public opinion with a focus on the prevailing policy discourse among social democratic elites.
He argues that, during the Great Recession, the social democratic parties found themselves in an electoral and ideational trap.
The electoral demands, as perceived by the social democratic policy-makers, served as a strategic constraint for their macroeconomic policies, while the prevailing policy discourse imposed substantive constraints on their imagination.
To make this argument, the thesis combines qualitative and quantitative methods and draws on a range of empirical evidence.
Amongst others, it uses quantitative text analysis, survey experiments, and insights from more than forty elite interviews with leading social democratic politicians and policy-makers in Germany and the UK.Finally, this also enables the thesis to demonstrate that office-seeking politicians are constrained in their ability to push for paradigm change when they are influenced by electoral calculations and ideational legacies.Taken together, the thesis helps to explain the dominance of austerity in the context of the Great Recession and provides a new account of the economic policies that social democratic parties pursued in response to the recent economic crisis in Europe. at the European University Institute (EUI) in March 2019. he completed a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at the University of Oxford and an MA in International Relations and International Economics at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. Recent claims in the literature have stressed a loosening link between parties and their voters and a deteriorating policy performance of parties in office. Thesis Summary Do we still witness partisanship differences in welfare state reforms and to what extent do social democratic parties still tailor welfare state reforms to the preferences of their core constituencies? In order to illustrate the range of topics, the department presents a selection of theses chosen among those that are both of very high quality (as certified by the examiners’ reports) and whose findings may be of interest to a wider public.The literature on party cartelization, winner-takes-all politics and producer group politics have all argued that electoral politics has become less relevant and that government composition does not affect policy output.This allows the thesis to make several distinct contributions.First, it combines the study of the supply-side of elite politics with the study of the demand-side to show how important electoral politics is to understand macroeconomic policy-making in liberal democracies.Instead, the electoral relevance of different constituencies is consistently related to labor market reforms under social democratic governments.A higher electoral relevance of the working class is related to more protection-oriented labor market reforms, whereas a higher electoral relevance of labor market outsiders leads to more pro-outsider labor market reforms. he completed a BA and MA in Political Science and Sociology at the University of Zurich.