En pluralistisk maktordning? : om pensionärsorganisationernas politiska inflytande

Sammanfattning: In 1991, the Swedish Social Democratic government established the Pensioners’ Council at the Ministry of Social Affairs. The Council’s purpose and structure were spelled out by the Government in a Commission of Inquiry Directive. According to this, the Council is to be a forum for deliberations between the Government and pensioners’ organizations. At the municipal level, Senior Citizens Councils have existed since the 1970s. They fill a similar purpose to that of the Pensioners’ Council at the central level, namely to be an arena for political discussions between representatives from pensioners’ organizations and the municipality. The purpose of this dissertation is two-fold. First, I describe the influence of pensioners’ organizations on the establishment of the pensioners’ councils and their political influence – potential as well as actual – in these councils. Second, I seek to explain the influence of pensioners’ organizations from a power resources perspective. By doing so, I hope to contribute to our knowledge of the relationship between the welfare state and organized interests. Does this relationship imply the existence of a corporatist or pluralistic power structure? Finally, I also hope to contribute to our understanding of the future development of the welfare state in the light of a global economy and aging population. The empirical investigation on the central level suggests that pensioners’ organizations influenced the decision to establish the Pensioners’ Council. Moreover, they had actual as well as potential political influence through the council since the early 1990s. There success in influencing government policy is due to the fact that pensioners’ organizations represent an important voting group and their employees have expert knowledge. At the local level, the empirical investigation suggests that pensioners’ organizations had influence on decisions made by municipalities to establish Senior Citizens Councils. However, opportunities to influence vary at the local level, and pensioners’ organizations actual political influence is limited. This limited influence can be explained as a consequence of pensioners’ organizations lack of an important power resource at the local level – employed expertise. It is argued in the dissertation that the empirical results do not suggest an existence of a corporatist power structure in social issues. Rather, they point to a pluralistic power structure – i.e. along side producer organizations, other organizations (such as those for welfare consumers) also have an important power position. This, in turn, limits the ability of politicians to cut welfare spending. The case of pensioners’ organizations therefore suggests that we cannot expect any drastic downsizing of the Swedish welfare state due to factors such as the globalization of the economy. In light of the aging population, the empirical results suggest that politicians will have to seek other solutions to be able to meet the challenge of financing welfare programs targeting the elderly than making drastic cutbacks in those programs.