Three essays on the acceptability of environmental policy in Switzerland

The present thesis studies the acceptability of environmental policy in Switzerland. The first part of the thesis concentrates on citizens' demand for environmental quality at ballots. The analysis is guided by the public choice framework, which is rooted in the assumptions of instrumental rationality and utility-maximization. However, it is advisable to account for socially constructed norms and preferences, and a logic of appropriateness, too when studying the demand for a public good such as the environment. This is why these elements were integrated into the analysis. Furthermore, in a rich decision-making framework which controlled for citizens' voting motivations and for contextual factors influencing the vote, it was shown that voters react sensitively to both their personal and the nation's perceived economic conditions. Thus, when they feel confident about the country's or their personal economic conditions, they are more likely to support environmental policy. The second part of the thesis is devoted to actors' policy preferences and their alliance formation behavior in the pre-parliamentary phase. Based on an in-depth analysis of actors' responses to four pre-legislative drafts, it was shown that the main conflict line in Swiss environmental policy runs along the market vs. state divide and that, thus, the possibility to engage in cross-cutting alliances remains limited. Despite hypotheses of scholars that this line of conflict may be shifting due to the emergence of post-material or left-libertarian issues on political agendas, we were not able to corroborate this claim for Switzerland.

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