Skattereforma av 1992: Nyliberale idear med sosialdemokratiske briller
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This thesis analyses the interaction between neoliberal ideas and the political parties Labour (Arbeidarpartiet) and Conservatives (Høgre) in the Norwegian tax reform of 1992. It is a single-case study of Norwegian tax policy. The aim of this study is to explore the role of neoliberal ideas in the tax reform process and in Norwegian tax policy. Blyth’s (2002) theorization of the interaction between ideas and interests is utilized as the theoretical framework for this thesis. It consists of 5 causal effects of ideas on institutional change in 5 steps. As Schmidt and Thatcher (2013a: 6) points out, neoliberalism has been adopted and used in different ways in different countries. Therefore, it is important to explain the way neoliberalism is used in this case. This thesis therefore include theory about actor’s preferences and strategies. Qualitative content analysis of Labour and Conservatives party manifestos from 1969-1989 and 2017, official documents attached to the tax reform and newspaper articles are combined with a literature review of biographies and professional literature as the data material for this research project. Process tracing is used to examine the causal mechanisms in the process leading up to the tax reform of 1992. Process tracing tests show that both Blyth’s (2002) theoretical framework and historical institutionalism cannot be rejected. Thus, historical institutionalism is as good as Blyth to understand the tax reform of 1992. Also, the analysis shows that step 3, delegitimizing the tax system, happened before a tax reform coalition were built in step 2. Thus, there is non-compliance between Blyth’s theory and the empirical data, which weakens the theoretical framework. This shows that the causal mechanisms should be probabilistic and not deterministic like Blyth argues. The main findings of this study are that neoliberal ideas facilitated reform by reducing uncertainty, acting as coalition building resources, delegitimizing the existing tax system, acting as institutional blueprints and recreating institutional stability. In the process leading up to the adoption of the tax reform, programmatic neoliberal ideas gave the decision makers concrete policy ideas to use when designing the new tax system. Cognitive and normative neoliberal ideas established a framework for reform which were framed and adopted to fit Norwegian political culture. Here was institutional change constrained because of high costs attached to neoliberal tax reform in the Norwegian political system. At the same time, there were economic gains of introducing neoliberal principles into the tax system by strengthening economic performance. Tax reform were thus framed as necessary for economic reasons. In this way, a constrained neoliberal tax reform was favoured by the political actors. Such the neoliberal ideas were adopted with and framed inside some social democratic glasses in the tax reform of 1992.