How are policy priorities formed and are there different dynamics at play in different issue areas? To what extent are governments responsive to the public and how much do they stick to electoral promises? How do framing, merging of policy ideas or unpredictable events influence policy outcomes? These are only a small number of the questions addressed at the 6th edition of the Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) conference. The research team of the MI was traditionally highly involved in the meeting, presenting new findings on agenda setting in the EU, The Netherlands and beyond.
This year the annual CAP conference took place in Antwerp from 27th to 29th June, hosting a higher number of panels and papers compared to its previous editions. The international collaboration includes teams of over 15 countries in the world, among which Canada, Germany, the US, Spain, Australia, and Great Britain to name a few. This year the community welcomed the start of new country projects in Turkey and Russia. The papers featured at the conference covered a wide array of topics within the shared interest in agenda setting: from new theoretical and methodological advances to many empirical investigations of the nature of political institutions and attention dynamics in policy areas. The two-day event started with an opening lecture by Chris Wlezien, a leading scholar on political responsiveness, and was closed after 13 sessions of intensive workshops.
The MI team, which coordinates the Dutch and EU Agendas Projects, had a substantive contribution to the workshops and discussions. MI Research Director Arco Timmermans and MI fellow Anne Rasmussen chaired two panels on policy processes and institutions. Arco Timmermans also presented a paper co-authored with MI fellow Gerard Breeman on the policy agenda management in coalition governments in the Netherlands. The analysis shows that correspondence between coalition agreements and annual Queen’s speeches varies substantially over the past 40 years. MI PhD researcher Petya Alexandrova presented the theoretical basis for her dissertation on issue dynamics on the European Council agenda. The project proposes a new concept of policy compounds, which denotes substantive associations between issues in policy making, and aims to develop a better understanding of how these policy compounds emerge. Leticia Elias, also MI PhD Researcher, discussed an approach to studying organised crime as a ‘travelling issue’ between the agendas of the European Council and the European Commission.
The newest MI fellow and first fellow from abroad – Marcello Carammia from the University of Malta – presented his enquiry on coalition politics in Italy, co-authored with Enrico Borghetto from Nova University Lisbon. Their research addresses questions pertaining to the capacity and power of different coalition parties to influence the policy agenda of the government.
More information about the 2013 CAP conference is available at the website of the hosting institution, University of Antwerp: http://www.ua.ac.be/main.aspx?c=.CAP2013.