Hanna Bäck, Marc Debus, Jale Tosun
Partisanship, Ministers and Biotechnology Policy

Review of Policy Research, 2015: 32, issue 5, pp. 556-575
ISSN: 1541-132X (print); 1541-1338 (online)

Research in public policy and political economy has provided many insights in the evolution of public resistance against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the last two decades. But how does the partisan composition of a government, its programmatic orientation and the allocation of cabinet offices affect policy making in this specific area? We argue that the regulation of GMOs is determined by the ideological orientation of governments and the presence of parties with a specific ideological background in the cabinet. In addition, we hypothesize that the parties' control over relevant cabinet posts matter for GMO regulation. We test our hypotheses by using an innovative dataset that contains information on biotechnology regulation outputs of European governments in the time period from 1996 until 2013, the partisan composition and policy-area specific positions of governments, and the party affiliation of key cabinet actors. The results show that the presence of a Christian democratic party in a cabinet increases the chances of a ban on biotech crops, in particular if it controls the Ministry of the Environment.