European Policy Analysis | VOL. 8
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Pandemic responses at the subnational level: Exploring politics, administration, and politicization in Swedish municipalities

Publication Date May 19, 2022

Abstract

The Swedish response to the pandemic at the national level has attracted considerable international attention, but little focus has been placed on the way municipalities dealt with the crisis. Using Hay's dimensions of politicization, namely the capacity for human agency, deliberation in the public domain, and social context, we analyze the politicization of the municipal response to the pandemic in Sweden. We do this based on the analysis of the decision making processto activate (or not) an extraordinary crisis management committee. We find inter alia, that (i) only a quarter of the municipalities activated the committee while a majority of them had an alternate special organization in place; (ii) support to the existing organizational structure was more salient than creating an extraordinary organization, and (iii) a robust municipal structure was deemed to be one able to withstand shocks without resorting to extraordinary governance arrangements. We find a 'conditioned politicization' of the response, privileging administration over politics.

Concepts

Swedish Municipalities Pandemic Responses Subnational Level Public Domain Administration In Municipalities Capacity For Agency Social Context National Level Robust Structure Extraordinary Organization

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