Policy Stability and Democratic Change
Energy in Spain's Transition
AUTHOR: Lancaster, Thomas D.
PUBLISHER: Pennsylvania State University Press
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This book examines the effects of peaceful regime change on public policy making. Spain's National Energy Plan (PEN) in particular illustrates a situation in which a critical policy issue permits direct comparison of decision-making across regime change, that being from the Franco dictatorship to the present liberal democracy.
Energy policy in Spain is revealing not only because the Spanish state plays a central role in this fundamental economic area but also because the first PEN was caught up in the politics of the transition; it was written in 1977 but not approved by the Cortes until 1979, and its revision was published in early 1982. The most recent PEN was produced by the Socialist government. Lancaster's study reveals that the nature of the political coalition underlying the change of Spain's regime accounts for a lack of a significant difference in policy-making processes in this particular policy issue.
The book develops a two-pronged argument to explain the absence of significant policy change. The first is based on a general view of the Franco regime's and the democratic system's coalitional support. In each, three major political forces are seen as central: the military, business, and labor. One of these, business, is seen as being pivotal in the regime transition, and that pivotal position, it is argued, has permitted a defense of a national energy policy beneficial to its economic interests in energy. The argument's second part focuses on binding constraints on the effects of policy which are imposed by private interests in state planning, and on the generally non-binding nature of oppositional party policy proposals and public opinion. In addition, this analysis discusses such agents of the policy process as interest group influence, political parties and their effect on agenda formation, choice of policy instruments, and the effects of bureaucratic structure on policy.
Based on extensive field research and many interviews with government, party, labor, and business leaders, this work will be important reading for scholars and students interested in the political science, history, and sociology of contemporary Spain. It will also be of value to individuals interested in the economics and public policy of European countries.
PUBLICATION DATE: 10/1/1990
CATEGORY: Political Science