Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 3 2008, page 39-56.
Involvement of social partners in employment policy reforms under liberal-conservative rule
Continuity or change?
The present article analyses the involvement of the social partners in the two most important recent Danish employment policy reforms, namely ‘More people into work’ and the employment policy part of the reform of local administration (‘the structural reform’). These two decision-making processes took place in the ﬁ rst half of the present decade under the rule of the present liberal-conservative government. Both the politico-administrative arena and the corporatist arena have been used in these decision making processes, but to a varying extent. The inﬂuence of the social partners – as seen in these two reforms – has all in all not been substantially reduced compared to the situation in the 1990s. The reforms show rather a continuation of a tendency towards weaker involvement of the social partners in the policy formulation phase, but continuous strong social partner inﬂuence in the agenda setting phase and in the policy speciﬁcation phase (the process where political decisions are transformed into legislation). The Ministry of employment is increasingly following a strategy where background analyses and initial preparation of the reform are kept relatively closed. The social partners are only involved in the preparation of the reform (most often informally and one organization at a time) when the ministry has decided exactly what their own aims and preferred measures are. Hence, inﬂuence is not to the same extent as previously something the social partners are given by the government, but something they have to ﬁght for through strategic choices and actions.