Christoph Knill, Marc Debus, Stephan Heichel
Do parties matter in internationalized policy areas? The impact of political parties on environmental policy outputs in 18 OECD countries 1970-2000

European Journal of Political Research, 2010: 49, issue 3, p. 301-336
ISSN: 0304-4130

This paper analyzes to what extent national policies in the highly internationalized environmental sector are influenced by policy preferences of political parties. The focus is on policy outputs rather than environmental performance as the central indicator of policy change. Based on a discussion of the relevant theoretical literature competing hypotheses are presented. For an empirical test, we use a dataset that includes information on the number of adopted environmental policies in 18 OECD countries at four points in time between 1970 and 2000. The results show that not only international integration, economic development and problem pressure influence the number of adopted policies, but also party politics aspects. The number of environmental measures increases if the governmental parties adopt more proenvironmentalist policy positions. This effect remains robust even when controlling for the institutional strength of governments, the left-right position of parties in government, the inclusion of an ecological or left-libertarian party inside the (coalition) government and the presence of a portfolio that deals exclusively with environmental issues.