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Crisis and perspectives on policy change: Swedish counter-terrorism policymaking

By D.H. Hansén


Crisis experience are often said to be catalysts for policy change. A look back at the policy change initiatives in counter-terrorism policy post 9/11, 3/11 and 7/7, suggests a clear pattern. Crises generate policy change. However, prior to these attacks Swedish counter-terrorism policy change followed a very different course. This thesis delves into the policymaking effects of three Swedish crises: the 1972 Bulltofta skyjacking, the 1975 seizure of the West-German Stockholm Embassy and the 1986 murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme. The first crisis created swift policy change which led to the Terrorist Act. But the occupation of the West-German embassy was followed by a decade of policy stasis. The murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme instigated major changes of Swedish counter-terrorism policies, even though the murder has never been proven as an act of terrorism. The experiences are puzzling. This thesis casts explanatory light on Swedish counter-terrorism policy development. The thesis argues that Swedish policy makers have been heavily influenced by cognitive biases when interpreting crises, which has had a moderating effect on policy change initiatives. Major policy changes or innovations have occurred, although these have been in keeping with dominant policy core beliefs, if such have prevailed. The changes however needed entrepreneurial exertion to come about. Government and administrative turnovers have had little impact on changing the constituencies for certain belief structures. Interestingly, crises of types other than the three investigated in particular here, such as scandals and affairs, have had a decisive impact on policy outcomes. They have not sparked off new counter-terrorism policy initiatives, but have been used by policy entrepreneurs to bend the understanding of problems, and they have reinforced cognitive biases

Topics: Sociale Wetenschappen, crisis management, counter-terrorism, policy change, advocacy coalitions, punctuated equilibrium, multiple streams
Year: 2007
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