Paper published by Antonios Souris, Sabine Kropp & Christoph Nguyen in „West European Politics“
News from Nov 13, 2023
Souris, Antonios, Sabine Kropp & Christoph Nguyen (2023): Attributing blame: how political parties in Germany leverage cooperative federalism, West European Politics, DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2023.2274719. Available here.
This study investigates how political parties used the federal structure of government for discursive blame attribution strategies in parliamentary debates during the Covid-19 crisis. The analysis focuses on the German case which is considered an embodiment of cooperative federalism. Largely intertwined responsibilities and joint decision making provide incentives for self-serving blame attribution strategies. The empirical investigation includes a qualitative content analysis of 212 parliamentary debates in the Bundestag and the 16 state parliaments. Overall, 2067 statements were manually coded and integrated into a novel dataset. The data reveal a more diverse discursive toolkit of blame attribution strategies than commonly conceptualised. The study demonstrates that parties, especially when they are involved in intergovernmental bodies and coalition governments, resort to ‘softer’ forms of blaming. The vertical integration of the party system also creates an effective blame barrier, containing self-serving strategies even during the prolonged crisis and several election campaigns.