Avoiding the Inevitable - A Comparison of Voters’ and the Elite’s Opposition towards Renewable Energy Transitions

Kammermann, Lorenz; Dermont, Clau (6 September 2017). Avoiding the Inevitable - A Comparison of Voters’ and the Elite’s Opposition towards Renewable Energy Transitions (Unpublished). In: ECPR General Conference. Oslo. 6 - 9 September 2017.

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In the wake of the COP21 conference in Paris global warming and a transition to an alternative energy supply are some of the most central issues on the political agenda. In order to achieve the newly formulated goals many nation states adopt ambitious measures for the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies. However, the promotion of renewable energies is often opposed by actors of the political elite or by certain groups of the public. This holds true even though the acceptance for renewable energies is generally very high. It is thus essential for scientists and policy makers alike to understand the diverse reasons for this aversion towards policy steps which implement the transition from fossil and nuclear energy towards renewable energies. This paper addresses this discrepancy between the general acceptance for renewable energies and the reluctance to support tangible measures for their promotion. The primary research question is what factors trigger opposition towards the promotion of renewable energies? As both the elite and voters are relevant actors in the implementation of renewable energies, but fulfill different roles, the more specific questions raised are what leads to opposition by political parties and how do party positions’ influence their respective voters. In order to answer these questions, we adopt a two-fold strategy: a public policy view on the preferences of elite actors and a political behavior approach for the analysis of voters’ preferences. The questions are addressed by applying social network analysis and multilevel logit models which are later innovatively combined. The paper focusses on the case of Switzerland. The Swiss case is ideal for two reasons: First, the direct democratic system allows citizens to actively participate in the political decision making process regarding the deployment of low-carbon technologies. Second, Switzerland knows a strong climate mitigation strategy since the beginning of 2000. In combination with the proclaimed nuclear phase out of 2011, the pressure to transform the electric power supply towards more low-carbon technologies is high. The data used for the analysis is based on a national representative survey questioning residents about their preferences towards renewable energy policy as well as on an elite survey among actors in the energy policy domain. By combining both sources and thus insights into elite actors positions and the influence of those on the public’s reaction we present a comprehensive account of opinions of the relevant political actors towards the transition towards renewable energies.
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Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Kammermann, Lorenz, Dermont, Clau


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Lorenz Kammermann

Date Deposited:

13 Nov 2017 17:06

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:07



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