The Politics of Change: Coalitional politics and labour market reforms during the sovereign debt crisis in Portugal

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Abstract

This article describes and explains labour market reforms in Portugal during the sovereign debt crisis from 2011 to 2014. Policy outputs were not homogenous, but differentiated between a first phase where recalibration co-existed alongside hard liberalising measures and a second phase, from late 2012, where recalibration was dropped and liberalisation further deregulated employment protection and security and eroded collective bargaining. This variation is explained by the changing coalitional politics and blame allocation underpinning policymaking under conditionality. Initial reforms resulted from a broad informal political coalition spanning the governing centre-right parties, the main opposition party, a trade union and employer confederations; its breakdown in late 2012 led to the executive's increasing centralisation, the shut down of social concertation, and more radical policy outputs. The article shows that cooperation between government and opposition and government and social partners is possible even under external conditionality, how coalition politics affects the nature and direction of reforms, and highlights how political dynamics of blame allocation drive the process of coalition building and breakdown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Policy
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

Keywords

  • blame allocation
  • coalition politics
  • conditionality
  • Eurozone crisis
  • Labour market reforms
  • Portugal

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