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In addition to deinstitutionalisation, this dissertation employs three con-cepts borrowed from partisan theory to explain why military service is thrown into deinstitutionalisation. Before introducing these, I want to stress three things.

First, deinstitutionalisation was not the consequence of or in any way driven by the Armed Forces (Haldén 2007; cf. Dandeker 1994;

Agrell 2011). It was a consequence of new policies, invented, designed and pushed by policy makers, and these policies had an unintended effect of deinstitutionalising military service. All along, the purpose of the policies was to preserve military service. Equally, the officers that pushed for change also, in general, did so with an eye to preserving military service. Second, the changes that took place in defence policy in the studied period are in their kind not limited to defence policy. In fact, a more appropriate picture is that the kind of changes that took place in defence policy were fairly typical to the period and could be seen especially in changes to welfare policy. The changes in defence policy are in other words part of a larger political movement during the same period. Third, even though they are derived from partisan theory and the agenda-setting literature, the concepts below should not be understood as a deviation from the institutional perspective. By contrast, they help showcasing how institutions enable and constrain policy makers in a way that is central to explaining the development of an institution since they give us a window for seeing how an institution is affected by the broader governing context and changes in it, and how policy makers deal with this in different ways and in connection to other policy areas. This, I believe, is essential information for understanding institutional development because institutional change does not take place in isolation to developments in other policy areas. As the earlier chapter suggested, this is especially the case for military service which in Sweden was tied up with both foreign- and social policy.

Issue-reputation. Parties “own” different issues (Budge & Farlie 1983a; Petrocik 1996; Lefevere et al. 2015). John Petrocik defines issue-ownership as the party’s “reputation for policy... produced by a


history of attention, initiative and innovation toward problems, which leads voters to believe that one of the parties is more sincere and com-mitted to do something” (Petrocik 1996: 826). Issue-ownership does not mean that parties have “opposing preferences”. Ownership is marked by

“selective emphasising”, where parties stress different perspectives on a policy, and do what they can to make their perspective the most salient (Budge & Farlie 1983b). Ownership works for good and for bad, and this depends on the governing context (Baumgartner & Jones 1993).

It can enable the party in the sense that its association with the issue suits the demands in an already existing or emerging context. In such cases the party is furnished with great policy capability because it (per-ceives) its ideas, taste and perceptions — its “policy paradigm” — to be “aligned” with the prevailing mode of thought in society (Sheingate 2000: 336).3 In the same way, issue-ownership can constrain the party if it is, or is perceived to be, outmoded and unsuitable in an existing or emerging context. To take the example of social welfare, issue-ownership is enabling for a party that is pro-welfare if the governing context is one where social welfare is popular, but if not ownership of social welfare can instead be a disadvantage.

Strategic adjustment. Social welfare is a useful example for bringing in the next concept — strategic adjustment by a party as a response to changes in the governing context, manifest by a new ideological direction (Kitschelt 1994; Green-Pedersen et al. 2001; Green-Pedersen & Blom-qvist 2004; Nygård 2006).4 Parties are problem solvers and are sensitive to contextual cues. As the governing context changes so will the policy makers’ conceptions of what constitutes “viable policy options” (Jones 1995). The starting point for this concept is that the prevailing ideas and perceptions in society structure how policymakers define problems and identify solutions (Skogstad 1998). When the governing context changes in ways that are discrediting to the party, it is compelled to adjustments to ensure that the party realigns to the prevailing mode of thought in society. This to ensure that the party stays relevant in the short and long term perspective — hence we are talking about a “stra-tegic” adjustment and not just a minor adjustment on a single policy issue. One well-studied example of this is that in the early 1990s, so-cial democratic parties in Europe, Sweden included, began a process of retrenching the welfare state and moving rightward (Gamble & Wright

3The purpose of this dissertation is to explain the causes for policy change, which is why real or perceived alignment with the electorate are just as importan. Whether the policy maker is correct in his analysis is of less importance.

4It should be added that the lion’s share of the massive literature on “new social democracy” that have emerged in the post-cold war period take this assumption as the point of departure.


1999; Green-Pedersen et al. 2001; Ryner 2002; Belfrage & Ryner 2009;

Forssell & Jansson 2000; Lindbom 2002; Svensson 2001; Blomqvist &

Rothstein 2000).5 As Jochen Clasen puts it:

social democratic parties... have not departed... or re-verse[ed] policies implemented by previous governments. ...[I]t might even be argued that, within a relatively short period of time, traditional pro-welfare social democrats have intro-duced more radical, and in some ways more restrictive, meas-ures than their conservative or liberal predecessors (2002:


Social democratic parties adjusted social welfare by cutting benefits and by introducing market-accommodating reforms in a wide spectre of wel-fare, ranging from primary schools, health care and pensions. In this process they follow what some have called “new public management”

(Premfors 1998: 142; Hood 1991; 1995; Denhardt & Denhardt 2000).

The purpose of the “new” public management was to correct perceived shortcomings in the “old” public management as a way of improving the efficiency in delivering public services. This could be achieved by intro-ducing market norms and “business-like” managerial techniques, includ-ing: discipline in resource use (“do more with less”); explicit standards and measures of performance; greater usage of rewards and incentives;

branding and marketing; focusing on goals, objectives and results more than procedures and traditions (Hood 1991: 4-5; 1995). It is widely be-lieved that these changes were strategic and a consequence of changes in the governing context brought about by earlier, centre-right govern-ments.6 An often cited example of strategic adjustment by the left to the centre is the Labour Party in Great Britain, and its strategy of a

“Third Way” between the “left” and the “right.”7 As one of its architects, Anthony Giddens, have put it:

The advent of new markets, and the knowledge economy, coupled with the ending of the Cold War, have affected the

5The literature on the turn to the right by (Western European) social democratic parties is immense. This is just a few examples of the studies that have been produced over the years.

6Some point to changes in the fiscal possibilities of the state — meaning that welfare became too expensive (Pierson 1996; 2001). Others point to sociological changes in society, both with a liberalisation of values and the role of the market vis-à-vis the state, and a movement from “class based” to “issue-based” voting (Kitschelt 1993; 1994; 1999).

7“Third Way” social democracy was also popular in Scandinavia, France and Germany. With reference to the issue of issue-ownership, social democratic parties, perceived their association to the “old” welfare state (“a highly statist brand of social democracy”) as becoming constraining instead of enabling (Blair 1998).


capability of national governments to manage economic life and provide an ever-expanding range of social benefits. We need to introduce a different framework, one that avoids both the bureaucratic, top-down government favoured by the old left and the aspiration of the right to dismantle government altogether. ...Some neoliberal reforms were ’necessary acts of modernisation’ (Giddens 2001: 2, 4 [emphasis added]).

Policy reversal. Strategic adjustment points to larger ideological redir-ections by a party. These can lead to, and often involve, unexpected changes in single policies, so called “policy-reversals”. Movements to the centre by parties to the left and (later) by parties to the right have only been possible by policy reversals. The frequency of these in the 1990s have led some to ask if the “old” conceptualisations of the “left”

and “right” still matter or if “parties still matter” (Pierson 1994; 1996;

Huber & Stephens 2001). This dissertation argue they do, but how they do has changed in the sense that party preferences take new ex-pressions, largely as a consequence of issue ownership (Cukierman &

Tommasi 1998; Ross 2000; Nygård 2006; Green-Pedersen 2002; Jensen 2011: 127). In changing governing contexts, the probability for sub-stantial policy change is higher for parties that are the most unlikely to reverse their stance on a given policy issue (Nygård 2006: 360). Parties (or individual politicians) whose traditional position was to defend a policy and reject its alternative solution are more likely to revise their standpoint and introduce the alternative solution if the context calls for it, than parties with an ideology that predictably would suggest the alternative solution (Cukierman & Tommasi 1998: 180). Policy change is, in other words, driven by the “wrong” parties. Such “inverse” party effects are sometimes called the “Nixon-goes-to-China” dynamic.8 The reason why parties act in this way has to do with accountability and whether a party will be subjected to accountability pressures. In short, a party with a historical commitment to an issue can “afford” reversal.

To explain why it was the left, and not the right, that pushed the welfare entrenchments in Scandinavia, Fiona Ross hence suggests that:

cuts imposed by the left may be viewed as “trade-offs” for in-creased spending in other areas, absolute essentials, strategic necessities, or, at minimum, lower than those that would be experienced under parties of the right (2000a: 165).

8During his presidency, Nixon branded himself as an anti-Communist, but yet he visited and took part in the international legitimisation of the People’s Republic of China in 1972. It would have amounted to political suicide for a Democratic president to attempt such a trip; exposing the party to the “soft on communism” charge.

Given Nixon’s reputation as an anti-Communist he immunised himself against such criticism.


The possibility for welfare retrenchment by rightist parties are more slim: “Voters do not trust rightist parties to reform the welfare state whereas they assume that leftist parties will engage in genuine reform rather than indiscriminate and harsh retrenchment” (Ross 2000b: 174).

The reason for this is that the public believes the reversal by the left to be “objectively motivated”, and not the consequence of right-wing ideo-logy. When strategic adjustment is deemed necessary, parties will in other words not refrain from reversing their stance on issues that they previously and historically have defended. It is also more likely that the party that owns the issue will initiate the reversal, since it is afforded with the greatest possibility for leadership in the change. Thus, and as a number of accounts of the welfare retrenchment reforms in Sweden have shown, the SAP cut back more on social welfare in the 1990s than the Moderate-led government did in the period between 1991 to 1994 (Balslev 2002). As Anders Lindbom among others have noted, this il-lustrates how structurally (or “institutionally”) limited especially liberal governments are in their policy formation when there is institutionalised support for “social democratic” polices (Lindbom 2010: 146).

Policy-reversal is often coupled with “blame avoidance”. When policy makers impose substantial change, they have strategies for minimising criticism. Typically by defending the change as a necessary course of action for preserving the endurance or legitimacy of an existing system

— turning vice into virtue (Levy 1999; Giger & Nelson 2010; Pierson 1996). This makes perfect sense, since the objective in politics usually is the actual outcome of a policy, not how the outcome is produced. Blame avoidance coupled to a focus on outcome, and hence the legitimacy of the policy, is something that Michael Klitgaard believes explains why Scandinavian social democratic parties turned to the centre in the 1990s:

[S]ocial democratic governments decide upon reforms when the party elite perceive policy problems as a threat to the legitimacy of the universal welfare state. Political institu-tions, i.e. welfare policies, functioning as power resources, need to be legitimate otherwise they may work against basic political interests (2007: 172).

Presented in this way, policy reversals are something rational that parties do and which policy makers expect they will be rewarded for. What is more, policy reversal gives us an idea for understanding how policy makers deal with issue-reputations in connection to institutions and changes in the governing context.

The two concepts and their mechanisms — deinstitutionalisation and issue reputations — explain different things but are equally important for accounting for the 2009 outcome and the process leading up to it.


It gives us the tools to address the questions that Hacker identified as necessary for explaining institutional change: “what kinds of institu-tional changes [are] propelled by what kinds of social processes [and]

are most likely under what kinds of political configurations” (Hacker et al. 2015: 180). The mechanism of deinstitutionalisation and its three sub-mechanisms of disruption, conversion and displacement are driven by specific party behaviours which this dissertation believes are cap-tured in the three concepts of: issue-ownership, strategic adjustment and policy-reversal.