Institutional change and system support – reforming the executive in Norwegian cities and regions

Oddbjørn Bukve, Hans Petter Saxi


By studying change from an alderman model to parliamentary rule in Norwegian cities and regions, this article analyzes how and why reorganization of political institutions influences support for the reformed institutions. We adopt a mixed methods design, where a survey to politicians in all seven reformed Norwegian governments and a control group are combined with a case study of reorganized governments with high and low levels of support for parliamentary rule. We find that support for the institutional model in the reformed governments depends on the reform’s effect on different political positions. Politicians in position are more positive toward parliamentary rule than politicians in the opposition, and politicians from the big parties are more positive than representatives from smaller ones. Institutional change affects interests in different ways. In turn, the effects that reform has on different interests influence their support for the reformed institutions.  System support is also affected by how the change process is implemented. An inclusive political leadership that builds oversized coalitions and gives political positions like committee chairs to the opposition results in stronger support for parliamentary rule. The overall finding is that both “pure” institutional effects and contextual factors influence support for parliamentary rule.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2000-8058