Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Policy beyond politics? Public opinion, party politics and the French pro-nuclear energy policy

  • Sylvain Brouard (a1) and Isabelle Guinaudeau (a2)
Abstract

At first sight, French nuclear energy policy offers a textbook example of how technical, constitutional and economic restrictions, powerful interest groups and path dependence constrain democratic responsiveness. This paper uses what might seem to be an unlikely case in order to question explanations of policy choices in terms of technocracy, path dependence and interest groups against the background of an under-estimated factor: party and coalition strategies. The original data collected on public attitudes towards nuclear energy and the attention dedicated to this issue in the media, as well as in the parliamentary and electoral arenas, show that the effect of public opinion is conditioned by party incentives to politicise the issue at stake. In other words, parties and coalition-making constraints act as a mediating variable between citizens’ preferences and policy choices. These findings point to the need to integrate this conditional variable into analyses of responsiveness and models of policymaking.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Arnold, C. and Franklin, M. N. (2012) Introduction: Issue Congruence and Political Responsiveness. West European Politics 35(6): 12171225.
Baisnée, O. (2001) Publiciser le risque nucléaire. La polémique autour de la conduite de rejets en mer de l’usine de la Hague. Politix 14(54): 157181.
Bale, T. (ed.) (2008) Immigration and Integration Policy in Europe. Abingdon: Routledge.
Barthe, Y. (2006) Le pouvoir d’indécision. La mise en politique des déchets nucléaires. Paris: Economica.
Bataille, C. and Galley, R. (1999) Rapport sur l’aval du cycle nucléaire: Tome II, les coûts de production de l’électricité. Rapport de l’Office parlementaire d’évaluation des choix scientifiques et technologiques, 1359, http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/11/rap-off/r1359-02.asp#P23_776 (accessed 10 September 2012).
Baumgartner, F. R. (1990) Keeping Nuclear Power Off The Political Agenda. Paper presented at the Workshop on the Comparative Political Economy of Science: Scientists and the State, Los Angeles, CA, 12–14 January.
Baumgartner, F. R. and Jones, B. D. (1993) Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
Baumgartner, F. R., De Boef, S. L. and Boydstun, A. E. (2008) The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Blais, A., Blake, D. and Dion, S. (1993) Do Parties Make a Difference? Parties and the Size of Government in Liberal Democracies. American Journal of Political Science 37(1): 4062.
Blais, A., Blake, D. and Dion, S. (1996) Do Parties Make a Difference? A Reappraisal. American Journal of Political Science 40(2): 514520.
Blanchard, P. (2010) Les médias et l’agenda de l’électronucléaire en France. 1970–2000, PhD thesis, Paris Dauphine University, Paris.
Bonneval, L. and Lacroix-Lasnoë, C. (2011) L’opinion publique et européenne et le nucléaire après Fukushima. Paris: Fondation Jean Jaurès.
Brouard, S. (1999) Partis politiques et politiques publiques dans les gouvernements locaux: l’exemple des groupes et élus écologistes dans les régions métropolitaines, PhD thesis, Institute of Political Science of Bordeaux, Bordeaux.
Boudia, S. (2003) Exposition, institution scientifique et médiatisation des controverses techno-scientifiques: le cas du nucléaire (1945–2000). Mediamorphoses 9: 4752.
Boudia, S. (2008) Sur les dynamiques de constitution des systèmes d’expertise scientifique: le cas des rayonnements ionisants. Genèses 70: 2644.
Brouard, S., Gougou, F., Guinaudeau, I. and Persico, S. (2013) Un effet de campagne: le déclin de l’opposition des français au nucléaire en 2011–2012. Revue Française de science politique 63(6): 10511079.
Burstein, P. (1998) Bringing the Public Back In: Should Sociologists Consider the Impact of Public Opinion on Public Policy. Social Forces 77(1): 2762.
Chick, M. (2007) Electricity and Energy Policy in Britain, France and in the United States since 1945. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Colson, J.-P. (1977) Le nucléaire sans les Français. Paris: Maspero.
Culpepper, P. (2011) Quiet Politics and Business Power. Coroporate Control in Europe and Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dahl, R. (1971) Polyarchy. Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Delion, A. G. and Durupty, M. (2010) Chronique du secteur public économique. Revue française d’administration publique 133: 169177.
Delmas, M. and Heinman, B. (2001) Government Credible Commitment to the French and American Nuclear Power Industries. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 20(3): 433456.
Downs, A. (1957) An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper.
Downs, A. (1972) Up and Down with Ecology: The Issue Attention Cycle. Public Interest 28: 3850.
Eilders, C. (2002) Conflict and Consonance in Media Opinion. European Journal of Communication 17(1): 2563.
Erikson, R. S., MacKuen, M. B. and Stimson, J. A. (2002) The Macro Polity. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Findlay, T. (2011) Nuclear Energy and Global Governance. Ensuring Safety, Security and Non-Proliferation. London and New York: Routledge.
Garraud, P. (1979) Politique électro-nucléaire et mobilisation: la tentative de constitution d’un enjeu. Revue française de science politique 29: 448474.
Gilbert, C. and Henry, E. (2009) Comment se construisent les problèmes de santé publique. Paris: La Découverte.
Gilens, M. (2005) Inequality and Democratic Responsiveness. Public Opinion Quartely 69(5): 778796.
Guillaumat-Taillet, F. (1987) La France et l’énergie nucléaire: réflexions sur des choix. Revue de l’OFCE 19(1): 189227.
Hadjilambrinos, C. (2000) Understanding Technology Choice in Electricity Industries: A Comparative Study of France and Denmark. Energy Policy 2: 11111126.
Hakhverdian, A. (2010) Political Representation and its Mechanisms: A Dynamic Left-Right Approach for the United Kingdom, 1976–2006. British Journal of Political Science 40: 835856.
Hakhverdian, A. (2012) The Causal Flow between Public Opinion and Policy: Government Responsiveness, Leadership, or Counter Movement? Evidence from the United Kingdom. West European Politics 35(6): 13861406.
Hatch, M. T. (1986) Politics and Nuclear Power. Energy policy in Western Europe. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
Hartley, T. and Russsett, B. (1992) Public Opinion and the Common Defense: Who Governs Military Spending in the United States? American Political Science Review 86(4): 905915.
Hecht, G. (1998) The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity After World War II. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Hill, K. Q. and Hinton Andersson, A. (1995) Pathways of Representation: A Causal Analysis of Public Opinion-Policy Linkages. American Journal of Political Science 39(4): 924935.
Hobolt, S. and Klemmensen, R. (2008) Government Responsiveness and Political Competition in Comparative Perspective. Comparative Political Studies 41(3): 309337.
Hutter, S. ( 2014) Protesting Culture and Economics in Western Europe: New Cleavages in Left and Right Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Imbeau, L.M., Pétry, F. and Lamari, M. (2001) Left -right party ideology and government policies: A meta-analysis. European Journal of Political Research 40(1): 129.
Jacobs, L. and Shapiro, R. Y. (1994) Studying Substantive Democracy. PS: Political Science and Politics 27: 917.
Jacobs, L. and Shapiro, R. Y. (2000) Politicians Don’t Pander. Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jasper, J. M. (1988) The Political Life Cycle of Technological Controversies. Social Forces 67(2): 357377.
Jasper, J. M. (1990) Nuclear Politics: Energy and the State in the United States, Sweden, and France. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Jopke, C. (1993) Mobilizing Against Nuclear Energy: A Comparison of Germany and the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kiersch, G. and von Oppeln, S. (1983) Kernenergiekonflikt in Frankreich und Deutschland. Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Autoren-Verlag.
Kitschelt, H. B. (1986) Political Opportunity Structures and Political Protest: Anti-Nuclear Movements in Four Democracies. British Journal of Political Science 16: 5785.
Kriesi, H., Koopmans, R., Duyvendak, J. W. and Giugni, M. G. (1995) New Social Movements in Western Europe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Lucas, N. D. (1979) Energy in France: Planning, Politics and Policy. London: Europa Publications.
Mair, P. (2006) Ruling the Void: The Hollowing Out of Western Democracy. New Left Review 42: 2551.
Manza, J. and Cook, F. L. (2002) Policy Responsiveness to Public Opinion: The State of the Debate. In J. Manza, F. L. Cook and B. I. Page (eds.) Navigating Public Opinion: Polls, Policy and the Future of American Democracy. New York: New York University Press, 1732.
Monroe, A. D. (1998) American Public Opinion and Public Policy, 1980–1993. Public Opinion Quartely 62: 628.
Mortensen, P. B., Green-Pedersen, C., Breeman, G., Chaqués-Bonafont, L., Jennings, W., John, P., Palau, A. M. and Timmermans, A. (2011) Comparing Government Agendas: Executive Speeches in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Denmark. Comparative Political Studies 44(8): 9731000.
Müller, W. C. and Strom, K. (1999) Policy, Office, or Votes? How Political Parties in Western Europe Make Hard Decisions. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Nelkin, D. and Pollak, M. (1980) The Political Parties and the Nuclear Energy Debate in France and Germany. Comparative Politics 12: 127141.
Nelkin, D. and Pollak, M. (1981) The Atom Besieged: Extraparliamentary Dissent in France and Germany. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Page, B. I. and Shapiro, R. Y. (1983) Effects of Public Opinion on Policy. The American Political Science Review 77: 175190.
Persico, S., Froio, C. and Guinaudeau, I. (2012) Action publique et partis politiques: l’analyse de l’agenda législatif français entre 1981 et 2009. Gouvernement et action publique 1: 1130.
Pierson, P. (2000) Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics. American Political Science Review 94(2): 251267.
Pitkin, H. (1967) The Concept of Representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Ramana, M. V. (2011) Nuclear Power and the Public. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 67(4): 4361.
Rose, R. (1984) Do Parties Make a Difference?. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Rucht, D. (1994) The Anti-Nuclear Power Movement and the State in France. In H. Flam (ed.), States and Anti-Nuclear Movements. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 129162.
Schneider, M. (2009) Nuclear Power in France – Trouble Lurking Behind the Glitter. In L. Mez, M. Schneider and S. Thomas (eds.), International Perspectives on Energy Policy and the Role of Nuclear Power. Brentwood, UK: Multi-Science Publishing.
Schumpeter, J. A. (1942) Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper & Row.
Soroka, S. N. (2002) Agenda-Setting Dynamics in Canada. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Soroka, S. N. and Wlezien, C. (2010) Degrees of Democracy. Politics, Public Opinion, and Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stimson, J. A. (1999) Public Opinion in America. Moods, Cycles, and Swings, 2nd ed., Boulder: Westview Press.
Stimson, J. A., Tiberj, V. and Thiébaut, C. (2010) Le mood, un nouvel instrument au service de l’analyse dynamique des opinions. Revue française de science politique 60(5): 901926.
Stimson, J. A., MacKuen, M. B. and Erikson, R. S. (1995) Dynamic Representation. American Political Science Review 89: 543565.
Topçu, S. (2006) Nucléaire: de l’engagement «savant» aux contre-expertises associatives, Natures, Sciences. Sociétés 14: 249266.
Vliegenthart, R. and Wlagrave, S. (2008) The Contingency of Intermedia Agenda-Setting: A Longitudinal Study in Belgium. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 85(4): 860877.
Wlezien, C. (1995) The Public as Thermostat: Dynamic Preferences for Spending. American Journal of Political Science 39(4): 9811000.
Wlezien, C. (2004) Patterns of Representation: Dynamics of Public Preferences and Policy. The Journal of Politics 66(1): 124.
Wlezien, C. and Soroka, S. N. (2012) Political Institutions and the Opinion-Policy Link. West European Politics 35(6): 14071432.
Zohlnhöfer, R. (2009) How Politics Matter When Policies Change: Understanding Policy Change as a Political Problem. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice 11(1): 97115.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Public Policy
  • ISSN: 0143-814X
  • EISSN: 1469-7815
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-public-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed