Blame‐shifting in Times of Permanent Austerity: Evidence from Spain and Greece in the Eurozone Crisis

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Series Details Volume 58, Number 3, Pages 562-579
Publication Date May 2020
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The literature on blame avoidance suggests that politicians seek to avoid the risk of electoral punishment by means of blame‐shifting. Based on a quantitative content analysis of public responsibility attributions, this article explores public blame‐shifting among Greek and Spanish parties in austerity governments during the eurozone crisis. Arguing that blame avoidance behavior in times of austerity is conditioned by party ideology, the findings suggest that incumbent left‐wing parties are more inclined to shift the blame whereas conservative parties also claim credit. The article then explores how the European character of the crisis influenced the patterns of blame‐shifting.

The results show firstly, that external blame‐shifting rose significantly in times of incumbency, when foreign actors appeared to be ideal scapegoats; secondly, external blame‐shifting in the crisis was slightly more common among left‐wing parties. The article contributes to assessing the role of party ideology for blame‐shifting and it helps to understand blame‐shifting in European policy fields.

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