The study of public policy, also known as public action, aims to understand the motivations and methods of state intervention in specific areas. For example, we seek to determine why and how the government or parliament intervenes to regulate issues such as safety, equal pay for men and women, or the remuneration of civil servants.
By focusing on the analysis of public policy, we look at what governments do, how they do it and the consequences of these initiatives. For example, we explore why the state would choose to intervene to protect theatres. We also assess the need for such intervention, how the state decides to carry it out, and the potential impact of such actions, including the deterrent effect they might have on security.
We will be looking here at the State in its tangible reality, the State in action, which manifests itself in the concrete actions it undertakes on a daily basis. These public policies, which we encounter and deal with directly every day, are omnipresent in our daily lives. We will seek to illustrate the diversity and plurality of the areas in which the State intervenes, as well as the variety of public policies it pursues. This underlines the breadth of the State's actions and responsibilities, which extend far beyond traditional stereotypes.
We will focus here on the definition of public policy and public action, examining the latter through the public policy cycle. This session will look specifically at public policy analysis and the public policy cycle, in order to provide an in-depth understanding of the processes involved in the creation, implementation and evaluation of state action.
We will begin our exploration in five stages. The first step will be to position public policy analysis within the broader context of political science. This positioning is crucial to understanding the interrelationship between governance, policy development and policy implementation. Next, to bring these concepts to life, we will present a number of concrete examples that reflect our everyday experience. These examples will highlight the diversity of public policies currently implemented by the State. As well as demonstrating this diversity, they will illustrate the considerable challenges facing the state when it comes to designing and implementing public policy. Third, to guide our discussion, we will establish an operational definition of public policy. This definition will provide a frame of reference for understanding what public policy is and how it is designed and implemented. We then turn to the systems approach, using Easton's model. This analysis will enable us to understand how this working definition is analysed and interpreted in the context of political science. Finally, we come to the heart of this session: the public policy cycle. This is where we will bring together all the previous elements to understand how public policy is initiated, developed, implemented and evaluated. This final stage will bring our session to a close by providing an overall view of the life cycle of a public policy.
Public Policy Analysis in Political Science[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Public policy analysis is a key sub-discipline of political science that examines the role of government institutions and their interaction with society. It aims to understand how and why certain policy decisions are made, how they are implemented and what impact they have on society.
In the broader context of political science, public policy analysis lies at the intersection of several fields. It borrows concepts and methodologies from sociology, economics, law and organisational studies. It is an interdisciplinary field of study that involves the study of political processes, institutions, ideas and the behaviour of political actors. It focuses on the actions of the state and examines how these actions affect different groups in society. Public policy analysts seek to understand the causes and consequences of the state's actions, by analysing the motivations of policy-makers, the decision-making processes, the mechanisms for implementing policies and the effects of these policies on citizens. In addition, public policy analysis is often linked to issues of governance, as it examines how policies are developed and implemented by public institutions. It also deals with issues of social justice and equity, studying how public policies affect different groups in society and looking for ways to make these policies fairer and more equitable.
The term "politique" in French can be interpreted in different ways depending on the context in which it is used. There are mainly two distinct meanings that are relevant to our discussion. On the one hand, we have "le Politique". When used in this context, 'the Political' refers to the set of institutions, structures and processes that govern how a society organises itself and makes collective decisions. It refers to broader concepts such as state organisation and systems of government. "The Political" provides an overview of the underlying mechanisms that govern the interaction between citizens and the state, as well as the guiding principles that underpin these interactions. On the other hand, we have "politics". The use of this term has a broader scope. It can refer to the art or practice of governance, i.e. how power is exercised, how decisions are made and how public affairs are managed. "Politics" can also refer to the ideas or strategies of individuals or groups seeking to obtain or exercise power within a society. In addition, "politics" can refer to specific public policies or to the totality of a government's actions. These two concepts, although related, allow an important distinction to be made between the institutional and organisational framework of politics (the Policy) and the activity of governance itself (the policy). This distinction is essential for the analysis of public policy, as it helps to understand the interactions between governance structures and the concrete actions of government.
The English language offers three distinct terms that cover different aspects of the political phenomenon: "polity", "politics", and "public policy". Each of these terms offers a unique perspective on politics and contributes to the richness of public policy analysis.
- Polity: This term refers to a form or structure of government or organisation, whether on a national scale or at the level of a smaller community. It describes the institutional framework within which political action takes place.
- Politics: This term encompasses the practice and study of governance, including the way in which power and resources are distributed and managed in society. It includes public debate, negotiation and decision-making, as well as all the activities associated with running a government or exercising power within an organisation.
- Public Policy: This is the term closest to what we mean by "public policies" in French. It refers to the actions and decisions taken by government (at local, regional, national or international level) and their impact on society. It includes the development, implementation and evaluation of public policies.
These three terms provide a framework for understanding the political process as a whole, from institutional structure (polity) to political processes (politics) and the formulation of concrete policies (public policy). Each of them is essential for a complete analysis of public policy.
In French, "politiques publiques" refers largely to what English speakers call "public policy". This is the level at which the state or government, through its various bodies and institutions, takes concrete decisions and implements actions to address specific problems or achieve specific objectives within society. Public policies can cover a wide range of areas, such as education, health, the economy, the environment, housing and transport, among others. They are generally the result of a complex process that involves defining problems, making decisions, implementing measures and evaluating results. Public policy analysis, therefore, is a discipline that seeks to understand how these decisions are made, how they are implemented, and what effects they have on society. It examines the motivations and processes underlying the development of public policies, as well as their consequences for various groups and individuals within society. Ultimately, the aim of public policy analysis is to provide a rigorous and informed assessment of state actions, in order to improve decision-making and increase the effectiveness and equity of public policies.
The three concepts - 'politics', 'policy' and 'public policy' - are intrinsically linked and overlap in many respects. Their simultaneous understanding and study enable a complete and in-depth analysis of the political phenomenon.
- Politics: This provides the institutional and organisational framework within which politics and public policy operate. It involves understanding how a society is structured politically, what the rules of governance are, who holds power and how it is exercised.
- Politics: This is the concrete activity that takes place within this framework. It takes the form of debates, negotiations, conflicts and decisions that lead to the development and implementation of public policies. It also includes the strategies and tactics used by different actors to influence these processes and achieve desired outcomes.
- Public policy: This is the concrete product of policy. They represent the actions taken by government to tackle specific problems, achieve objectives, distribute resources or regulate the behaviour of citizens. Public policy analysis seeks to understand how these policies are designed, implemented and evaluated, and what impact they have on society.
In short, these three concepts complement each other to give a complete picture of the political phenomenon. They underline the importance of institutional structures (politics), political processes (policy) and concrete actions (public policy) in understanding government and governance.
Polity [modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The term "polity" generally refers to what we call "political systems" or "political regimes" in French. It encompasses all the institutions, rules, structures and processes by which a society or community governs itself. The term is concerned with the way in which power is organised and exercised, the forms of government and the way in which decisions are taken within the political organisation. Consequently, in analysing "polity", we seek to understand the constituent elements of the political framework, how they function and how they interact. This includes the study of constitutions, laws, electoral rules, governance structures, political parties, bureaucracies, and other political and social institutions that shape the "political game".
The term "Polity" in English corresponds to what we call "le Politique" in French. It refers to the political systems or regimes of a country or society. This concept includes the institutional structures, rules and procedures that govern the political organisation of an entity. It is important to note that the concept of "polity" is relatively broad and can vary from one society to another depending on a variety of factors, including history, culture, geography and economics. Using a sporting analogy, as the Americans often do, 'Polity' can be thought of as 'the frame of the political game'. In other words, it is the rules of the game - the guidelines, regulations and structures that determine how the political game is played.
The analysis of "polity" or political systems plays a crucial role in the analysis of public policy. The structures and rules that define a political system can greatly influence the way in which public policies are designed, developed, implemented and evaluated. For example, the type of political regime (democracy, autocracy, etc.) can influence the degree of public participation in policy-making, while the structure of government (federal, unitary, etc.) can affect the way in which political responsibilities are allocated and policies are implemented at different levels. In addition, the legal and constitutional framework can determine which policies can be implemented, and how. For example, some constitutions may include specific protections for certain rights or freedoms, which must be respected when developing and implementing policies. Finally, the nature of the electoral system and party landscape can also influence public policy. For example, in multi-party systems, policies may be the result of negotiations and compromises between different parties. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of public policy requires a thorough understanding of the 'polity' or political system in which policy is implemented.
The Swiss political system has a number of unique features that distinguish it from the classic parliamentary and presidential systems, making it a hybrid case. One of these unique features is the presence of direct-democratic mechanisms, which allow citizens to play an active part in shaping public policy. One of these mechanisms is the popular initiative. If 100,000 citizens sign a proposal, they can put a public problem on the agenda that requires political action. In other words, citizens can directly propose a new public policy. The Swiss system also provides for an optional referendum. This means that if a public policy has been adopted by Parliament, citizens can challenge it by launching a referendum. If enough signatures are collected, the policy is then put to a popular vote. These direct-democratic mechanisms have a significant influence on the policy-making process in Switzerland. They allow for more direct citizen participation and can contribute to the legitimacy and acceptability of public policies. However, they can also make the political process more complex and demanding in terms of time and resources.
Direct democracy and federalism are specific characteristics which may vary from one political system to another. Direct democracy, where citizens have the opportunity to vote directly on specific laws or policies, is an important feature of some political systems. Switzerland is particularly well known for its extensive use of direct democracy. However, some American states, such as Oregon and California, also use direct democracy mechanisms, although generally on a more limited scale than Switzerland. Federalism, on the other hand, is a form of political organisation in which power is divided between a central government (in this case, the Confederation) and smaller territorial entities (the cantons and communes in Switzerland). In a federal system, different public policies can be managed at different levels of government, depending on the division of powers defined by the constitution or the relevant laws. These two characteristics have a significant impact on the process of developing and implementing public policies. Direct democracy can allow for greater citizen participation and government accountability, while federalism can allow for greater flexibility and adaptability of policies to local conditions. However, both of these features can also complicate the policy process and require effective coordination and communication between different levels of government and with citizens.
Switzerland is an example of perfect bicameralism, with the National Council representing the people and the Council of States representing the cantons. Both chambers have equal legislative powers, reflecting the balance between representation of the people and representation of the cantons. This bicameralism is a particular feature of the Swiss political system, which differs from more centralised systems that do not necessarily have a second chamber to represent local interests at parliamentary level. The way in which these structures and rules, such as bicameralism, affect the conduct of public action is a key issue in public policy analysis. These institutions can either facilitate or hinder the development and implementation of public policy. For example, in a bicameral system such as Switzerland's, a policy proposal must be approved by both chambers to become law. This can allow for more scrutiny of policy proposals and encourage consensus, but it can also make the legislative process slower and more complex. In a unicameral system, on the other hand, policy adoption may be quicker, but there may be less scrutiny and deliberation. In addition, Switzerland's perfect bicameralism reflects its commitment to federalism and local representation. This can make it easier to adapt policies to local conditions and promote acceptance of policies by individual cantons. However, it can also require complex coordination between different levels of government and can sometimes lead to compromises or divergences between national and cantonal policies.
The question of whether it is more effective to conduct spatial planning policy in a centralised or federalist system is a relevant one in the field of public policy analysis. In a centralised system, the central government is responsible for policy development and implementation across the country. This can lead to greater coordination and uniformity in the application of spatial planning policies. However, this approach can also have disadvantages, such as a failure to take account of local specificities or the risk of over-centralisation, which can be inefficient and lead to tensions. Conversely, in a federalist system such as Switzerland's, where municipalities have the option of determining their own land-use plans, spatial planning can be adapted to local conditions and the specific needs of each municipality. This can encourage greater local participation and potentially lead to more locally accepted and effective policies. However, it can also lead to fragmentation, where different regions follow different policies, and may require more complex coordination to ensure consistency at a national level. Ultimately, the question of which system is 'best' for delivering spatial planning policy depends on many factors, including the specific characteristics of the country in question, the resources available, the historical and cultural context, and the specific objectives of the policy. Public policy analysis can help to understand these factors and assess the potential advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
The presence of direct-democratic instruments, such as the popular initiative, can potentially influence the public policy-making process, and in particular the type of issues that can be put on the political agenda. In a political system that allows for popular initiative, citizens have the ability to introduce new laws or propose changes to existing legislation. This can make it easier to put issues on the agenda that might otherwise be ignored or avoided by politicians, particularly controversial or morally sensitive issues such as abortion, the end of life, medically assisted reproduction or stem cell research. Consequently, in these systems, the diversity of public issues considered and debated may be greater. In addition, the possibility of recourse to the popular initiative may also encourage greater citizen participation and democratic accountability, since citizens have the opportunity to directly shape the political agenda. However, the presence of the popular initiative does not necessarily guarantee that these issues will be dealt with effectively or fairly. For example, the popular initiative process can be influenced by well-organised or financially powerful interest groups. In addition, some issues, particularly those that are complex or technically difficult, may not lend themselves to simple "yes" or "no" decisions in a popular initiative vote. In short, while direct-democratic instruments can influence the process and content of public action, their impact will also depend on other factors, such as the political context, democratic culture, and the ability of citizens to inform themselves and participate effectively in these processes.
Politics[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The "Politics" dimension refers to the dynamics of power struggles, the interactions between the various political stakeholders and the way decisions are taken. This is where the political game comes to life, with all its players, rules and strategies.
As part of this dimension, researchers could look at questions such as: Who are the players involved? What are their interests and motivations? How do these actors interact with each other and how do their interactions influence the political process? How is power distributed and exercised? What factors influence the outcome of elections? For example, an analysis of 'Politics' in the context of public policy analysis might involve the study of political parties, electoral campaigns, social movements, pressure groups, coalitions, negotiations, political strategies and tactics. By focusing on this dimension, we can gain a better understanding of political power dynamics, decision-making processes, and how these influence public policy.
The 'Politics' dimension also involves an analysis of the changing dynamics of the political landscape, such as the evolution of political parties and the impact of these changes on policy formation. Take, for example, the Swiss political system: since the 1990s, the UDC (Union Démocratique du Centre) has enjoyed a remarkable rise, leading to an increasing polarisation of the various political parties. It is important to note, however, that political parties are not the only players vying for power. There are a multitude of interest groups seeking to influence the content of public policy. For example, groups representing the interests of entrepreneurs, such as Économie Suisse, farmers, such as the Swiss Farmers' Union, tenants, such as ASLOCA, and anti-globalisation activists, such as ATTAC. These entities, often referred to as pressure groups or lobbies, seek to exert their influence on the political process in order to steer public policy in a direction that favours their interests. In this context, public policy analysis must take into account not only the actions of political parties, but also the impact of interest groups on policy formulation and implementation.
The key question here is whether a change of government or a new electoral majority can bring about a significant change in the conduct of public policy. For example, if the left replaces the right in power, will this lead to a change in employment policies? For those familiar with the dynamics of political parties, the answer seems obvious. Take the emblematic example of the transition from the presidency of George W. Bush to that of Barack Obama in the United States. The introduction of Obamacare, or the American healthcare system, would probably not have been possible under a Republican majority. However, under a Democratic majority, this major reform was implemented. This observation suggests that there is a significant relationship between the political composition of a government and the nature of the public policies it implements. Careful analysis of these dynamics is therefore crucial to understanding and anticipating possible changes in public policy.
It is true that a change in the parties in power can potentially lead to a major transformation in the public policies implemented. However, as the example of Barack Obama shows, a change of government does not necessarily guarantee a significant change in all public policies. For example, despite his commitment to closing Guantanamo and restricting firearms, Obama failed to achieve these goals during his time in office. So even if the arrival in power of a new majority can influence the direction and content of certain public policies, this does not mean that it will necessarily have an impact on public action as a whole. This is an empirical question that needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The effects of a change of majority on public policy are often determined by a complex set of factors, including the political context, institutional constraints, the preferences of the majority and the dynamics of interest groups.
Let's take the example of the presidencies of Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande in France, and examine policies relating to working time and taxation. Under Nicolas Sarkozy, although critical of the 35-hour working week, no major changes were made to this law. He did, however, introduce reforms to encourage overtime by exempting it from tax and social security contributions, a measure aimed at indirectly relaxing the 35-hour law without abolishing it. As far as taxation is concerned, the two presidencies took different approaches. Under Sarkozy, the tax shield, which limited direct taxes to 50% of income, was introduced. He also abolished the taxe professionnelle and reduced the ISF (Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune). When François Hollande came to power, we saw significant changes. He abolished the tax exemptions on overtime introduced by Sarkozy. On the tax front, one of Hollande's flagship measures was the creation of a 75% tax bracket for incomes over €1 million a year, although this measure was subsequently invalidated by the Constitutional Council. In addition, the tax shield was abolished and the wealth tax was reformed. These examples illustrate how a change of majority can lead to changes in public policy. However, the extent and nature of these changes depend on a variety of factors, including the ideological preferences of the party in power, institutional constraints, pressure from interest groups, and the general state of the economy and society.
Public Policies[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The 'politics' dimension of public policy analysis refers primarily to the study of the power dynamics and political struggles that influence policy development and implementation. This includes examining the roles of political parties, elections, pressure groups and other political actors. However, when we actually examine public policy, we focus more directly on the 'substance' of the state - what the state actually does, the decisions it makes, the actions it takes, and the changes in behaviour it imposes or encourages among citizens. This may include questions such as: What laws has the state adopted? What programmes or initiatives has it launched? What regulations or standards has it established? How are these policies implemented? What is their impact on society and the economy? What are the objectives of these policies, and are they being achieved? This approach to public policy analysis focuses on the concrete, tangible results of government action, and seeks to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of these actions.
Nominal public policies' are often referred to in public discourse and the media. These terms are widely recognised and generally understood to refer to specific sets of actions taken by the state in a particular area of society. For example, "public employment policy" may refer to a set of laws, regulations, programmes and services implemented by the state to promote employment and help those seeking work. This can include training programmes, tax incentives for employers who hire, job search assistance services, and legal protections for workers. Similarly, 'environmental policy' could include laws and regulations to protect the environment, programmes to promote renewable energy, initiatives to reduce pollution, and other such actions. Equal pay policy" could involve laws requiring equal pay for equal work, efforts to promote gender equality in the workplace, and other similar measures. These terms provide a simple and straightforward way of categorising and understanding specific actions taken by the state in different areas of public policy.
Public policies are the tangible results of the political process. They can take many forms, including laws, regulations, court decisions, government programmes and more. For example, when teachers teach their students, they are participating in public education policy. The state has set standards and expectations for education, funded educational institutions, and established programs and policies to guide teaching. The interaction between teacher and student is a direct result of this policy. Moreover, this interaction is not isolated, but forms part of a series of interactions that make up the education system. For example, student assessment, curriculum development, teacher training, resource allocation, and other elements of the education system are also governed by public policy. In this context, public policy analysis involves examining how these policies are developed, implemented and evaluated, and what impact they have on society. It is an important area of political science and other related disciplines.
Although public policy analysis focuses primarily on the results of government action, it cannot ignore the factors that have influenced these results. Who holds power, what are the institutional rules of the political game, which actors are involved, and what resources are available, can all have a significant impact on the development, implementation and effectiveness of a public policy. In this context, the comparative approach is often used to examine how these factors can influence public policy in different countries or contexts. For example, how does education policy differ between a centralised and a federalist country? Or how is environmental policy affected when power shifts from a conservative to a progressive party? By studying these differences and identifying the factors that influence public policy, analysts can gain a better understanding of the forces at work and possibly propose improvements or reforms to make public policy more effective.
Public policy analysis serves two distinct but interdependent purposes. On the one hand, there is public policy analysis, which is a scientific approach aimed at understanding, describing and explaining public policies and how they work. This approach uses empirical methodologies to collect and analyse data, with the ambition of identifying patterns and trends that can help to understand how the political system works and how public policies are developed, implemented and evaluated. On the other hand, there is public policy analysis, which is a more normative approach aimed at improving public policy. This perspective involves providing recommendations on how public policy could be improved to be more effective and responsive to society's needs. This could involve, for example, suggesting changes to an existing policy, identifying new approaches to solving a public policy problem, or advising on the development of new policies. In short, public policy analysis aims both to understand how public policy works and to improve its effectiveness and relevance in responding to societal challenges.
Public policy analysis focuses primarily on the results of public action. This approach differs from electoral sociology, which focuses on voting behaviour and electoral dynamics, or from the comparative analysis of political systems, which compares the structures and processes of political systems in different countries. However, although public policy analysis focuses on the results of government action, it does not take place in isolation. It takes into account the influence of institutional structures and power relations on the formulation, implementation and outcomes of public policies. Thus, a public policy analyst might examine how differences in institutional structures between countries can influence policy outcomes. For example, how federalism in the United States or the parliamentary system in the United Kingdom can influence the implementation of education or health policies. Similarly, public policy analysis recognises that power relations within a political system can have an impact on public policy. For example, who has the power to formulate policy? Which groups have an influence on the political process, and how is this influence exercised?
The public policy approach as we know it today is a relatively recent development in the field of political science. It began to take shape in the 1960s, particularly in the United States, and has since evolved into an important field of study in political science. Prior to this time, political analysis focused mainly on describing and explaining institutional structures (such as parliamentary or presidential systems) and on studying electoral behaviour and political parties. These approaches, while valuable, tended to focus more on political processes and structures, rather than on the specific outcomes of public action. With the advent of the public policy approach in the 1960s, a new emphasis was placed on studying the outcomes of government actions. Researchers began to analyse how policies are formulated, implemented and evaluated, and how these processes are influenced by various factors such as institutional structures, power relations, and the social and economic context. This has led to a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the policy process, focusing on actual policies and their impacts on society. Since then, public policy analysis has continued to develop and evolve, incorporating new theories, methods and perspectives.
Concrete examples of public policy[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Public action takes the form of various policies and initiatives carried out by different State bodies. These public policies can be seen as a concrete manifestation of state action. Governments at all levels deal with a variety of areas, including education, health, housing, social protection, the environment, the economy, security and many others. Each of these areas is often managed by a separate ministry or government agency. For example, health policy might be managed by a Ministry of Health, while education policy might be managed by a Ministry of Education. This specialisation allows the government to focus more precisely on different areas and to pursue more effective and appropriate policies. It is also a recognition that public policy-making is a complex task that requires specific expertise and knowledge. However, it is also important to note that different public policies are not totally isolated from each other. There are often interactions and interdependencies between them. For example, housing policy can have an impact on health policy by affecting people's quality of life and well-being. Similarly, education policy can have an impact on economic policy by affecting the skills of the workforce and economic productivity. Furthermore, the effectiveness of public administration in implementing these public policies may also vary according to various factors, such as the resources available, the competence and capacity of the administration, the quality of governance, and the specific social and political context.
The hierarchy and importance of different public policies often vary according to a number of factors. For example, current events, social values, demographics, the economy and other factors can influence which issues are perceived as priorities in public opinion. In addition, governments often have to make difficult choices about how to allocate their resources. This means that some public policies may receive more funding or staff than others, depending on their perceived importance. For example, in times of war or economic crisis, the government may choose to devote more resources to defence or economic policy. However, it is also important to note that coordination between different ministries and departments can be a major challenge to the effective implementation of public policy. Each ministry or department may have its own mission, objectives and priorities, which can sometimes lead to conflicts or overlaps in their efforts. In addition, each ministry or department may have a different understanding of the problems and appropriate solutions, which can further complicate coordination. In short, the effective conduct of public policy requires not only a thorough understanding of the issues to be addressed, but also skilful management of available resources and effective coordination between the various government bodies.
Justice and Police sector[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The issue of "terrorist travellers" is a worrying one for many countries, including Switzerland. These individuals often travel to conflict zones, such as Syria or Iraq, to join terrorist groups and receive training. They represent a threat to security, as they may return to their country of origin with the intention of committing acts of violence or recruiting others to their cause. In this context, the TETRA task force would be a Swiss inter-agency group set up to monitor and respond to this phenomenon. The members of this task force could include FEDPOL (the Swiss Federal Police Office), the Public Prosecutor's Office and the confederation's intelligence services. Their job would probably be to gather information on individuals who leave to train for jihad, to work with international partners to track their movements, and to develop strategies to prevent such travel and to deal with individuals on their return. This is a difficult and delicate task, requiring close coordination between different agencies, as well as a thorough understanding of the motivations and tactics of these "terrorist travellers". It is an example of how public policy must often evolve to respond to new challenges and threats.
The problem of "terrorist travellers" is a worrying security issue for many countries, including Switzerland. The TETRA Task Force is a response to this threat, and its role is to track and identify individuals who have been radicalised or are in the process of being radicalised, and who leave the country to join extremist groups and train for jihad. The report published in November 2015 indicates that 71 individuals have been formally identified as having left Switzerland to join jihadist groups in various countries. These individuals include both men and women. These figures show the diversity of individuals who are attracted to jihad, and highlight the complexity of the fight against radicalisation. This is an example of public security policy in action. The Federal Department of Justice and Police, headed by Madame Sommaruga, is responsible for managing this issue, in cooperation with other state agencies. The work of the TETRA Task Force shows how the state can use information to inform public policy and take action to protect the safety of its citizens.
The management of "foreign fighters" who attempt to return to their home countries after travelling to conflict zones is a complex and sensitive issue for many governments. Authorities have to balance a number of concerns, including national security, human rights and international legal obligations. The number of people leaving for conflict zones is as follows: 13 for Somalia, 1 for Afghanistan/Pakistan and the vast majority, 57, for Syria and Iraq. What interests us is the opposite arrow: 22 individuals were prevented from entering Switzerland after taking part in jihadist activities abroad. This figure indicates that the Swiss authorities are active in monitoring these individuals and taking measures to prevent their return to Swiss territory. The authorities responsible for these decisions include the federal police, cantonal police, border guards and intelligence services. These agencies work together to share information and coordinate their actions to protect public safety. However, it is important to note that this issue presents many challenges. Governments must not only identify and track individuals who are likely to pose a threat to security, but also tackle the root causes of radicalisation and provide adequate support to those seeking to deradicalise and reintegrate into society.
Today, this debate has taken on a very significant dimension, obsessing the media and taking the head of a large number of people. It wasn't a policy that was very visible until 13 November 2015, but now it's right at the top of the agenda. The terrorist attacks of 13 November 2015 that took place in Paris, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds. These attacks were claimed by the Islamic State and led to a heightened global awareness of the problem of foreign terrorist fighters and the threat they pose when they return to their home countries. In the wake of these tragic events, security policies have gained in visibility and priority on the public and political agenda. Governments around the world have had to step up their efforts to monitor and manage radicalised individuals, and the issue has received increased media and public attention.
The Schengen Agreements, which were signed in 1985 and came into force in 1995, created what is known as the Schengen area. This area comprises 26 European countries that have abolished controls at their common borders, allowing the free movement of people within the area. Switzerland joined the Schengen area in 2008 following a popular vote in 2005. However, the agreements also provide for the possibility of temporarily reintroducing border controls in the event of an emergency or serious threat to public order or national security. Different countries in the Schengen area have used this provision on several occasions, notably in response to migratory crises or terrorist threats. The debate on the use of this provision can be complex and polarised. On the one hand, some argue that the reintroduction of border controls may be necessary to maintain security and manage certain crises effectively. On the other hand, critics argue that the reintroduction of border controls goes against the spirit of the Schengen Agreement and may undermine the free movement of people, which is a fundamental principle of the European Union.
These debates on security and surveillance are common to many countries. The balance between national security and privacy is a complex and polarised issue. Governments and security agencies often argue that surveillance measures, such as phone tapping and spyware, are necessary to protect the public against threats such as terrorism. However, these practices have also raised significant privacy concerns. Critics argue that these surveillance measures can be intrusive and violate privacy and civil liberties rights. There are also concerns that these powers may be used in an abusive or discriminatory manner. These debates often take place in the context of security and surveillance legislation. For example, an intelligence law was passed in Switzerland in 2015, following a national debate on these issues. This law gave the Swiss intelligence services new surveillance powers, including hacking into private computers and conducting phone taps. However, it has also been criticised by some as an invasion of privacy.
The balance between national security and the protection of individual freedoms is one of the most important debates of our time. In many countries, including Switzerland, these discussions are at the heart of public policy and legislative debates. In the case of the Intelligence Act in Switzerland, following its adoption by Parliament, it was put to a referendum in September 2016. Swiss citizens voted in favour of the law, with around 65% voting in favour, meaning that the majority of voters accepted the new surveillance measures. However, this does not mean that the debate is over. Opponents of the law continue to worry about the potential invasion of privacy and civil liberties. In addition, ongoing technological developments are raising new questions about how surveillance should be regulated. For example, the increasing use of artificial intelligence and big data by intelligence services poses new challenges for protecting privacy. Overall, it is likely that these debates about the balance between security and freedom will continue to evolve and adapt as new technologies emerge and the security threat landscape changes.
The debate around security policies and protecting individual freedoms is a major challenge for modern democracies. Finding the right balance between protecting the population and respecting fundamental freedoms is crucial. In addition, these debates can help to enlighten citizens about the issues in question and to formulate more balanced and effective public policies. The referendum process is an excellent example of direct democracy in action. It allows citizens to have their say directly on important public policies. This mechanism has often been used in Switzerland to settle controversial issues. In the case of the Intelligence Act, if the referendum is successful, it will be interesting to see how the Swiss public assesses the balance between security and freedom. Whatever the outcome of the vote, it is important that the process is transparent and that citizens are well-informed of the implications of their choice.
Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications sector[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), headed by Doris Leuthard, is one of the seven departments of the Swiss federal administration. This department is responsible for various issues relating to the environment, transport, energy and communications, and is divided into several specialist offices for each of these areas. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) is responsible for environmental issues, including air and water protection, biodiversity, climate change and waste management. The Federal Office of Transport (FOT) oversees the Swiss transport system, including railways, roads, aviation and shipping. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) is responsible for energy policy, including issues relating to energy supply, energy efficiency and renewable energies. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) oversees media and communications, including the regulation of telecommunications and postal services. Each of these offices contributes to the development and implementation of public policy in its respective field, in collaboration with other players in the administration, the cantons, industry and civil society.
Transport spending cuts such as those envisaged by Mrs Leuthard could have major implications for Switzerland's public transport service. Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is a crucial component of the country's transport system, providing train services for journeys within the country as well as international connections. A 20 billion reduction by 2030 means that spending could be cut by around a third. This could lead to a variety of changes, such as reducing the frequency of services, cutting back on maintenance of existing infrastructure, or even job cuts. This is why SBB drivers, as well as other public transport workers, may be worried. They may fear for their job security and the quality of the service they are able to provide. In addition, such a reduction in spending could have wider consequences for mobility in Switzerland, affecting the availability and accessibility of public transport for citizens. However, it is important to note that the implementation of these cuts will depend on a series of political and budgetary decisions taken over the next decade. We will have to keep a close eye on how this situation develops.
The Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), which is headed by Mrs Leuthard, is responsible for a wide variety of public policies that affect the everyday lives of Swiss citizens.
- Telecommunications: DETEC plays a key role in regulating and supervising the telecommunications sector in Switzerland. This includes putting in place policies to encourage competition and innovation, as well as to protect consumers. The department also works on issues relating to high-speed internet access, net neutrality and the protection of online privacy.
- Energy: DETEC is also responsible for developing and implementing Switzerland's energy policy. This includes promoting renewable energies, regulating the electricity market, and efforts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Transport: In addition to SBB-related issues, DETEC also works on other aspects of transport policy, such as road safety, the development of transport infrastructure, and the promotion of sustainable modes of transport.
Each of these public policies has a major impact on the everyday lives of Swiss people, from their ability to get around, their access to electricity and the internet, to their exposure to air pollution and climate change.
Defence, Civil Protection and Sport Sector[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS), headed by Ueli Maurer, is responsible for several key areas in Switzerland:
- Defence: This includes the management and command of the Swiss armed forces, including strategic planning, the preparation and conduct of military operations, and the recruitment and training of military personnel.
- Civil protection: The DDPS is also responsible for civil protection in Switzerland. This includes preparing for and responding to emergencies, such as natural disasters and technological incidents, as well as managing civil protection risks.
- Sport: The DDPS is responsible for promoting sport and physical activity in Switzerland. This includes supporting sports organisations, developing programmes to encourage physical activity among young people and adults, and organising sports competitions.
These three areas of public policy have a major impact on the daily lives of Swiss citizens, and the DDPS plays a key role in their implementation.
The purchase of new fighter aircraft is an important issue for many countries, including Switzerland. In 2014, the Swiss people rejected the purchase of 22 Gripen fighter jets from Swedish manufacturer Saab in a referendum. The purchase sparked a lively debate about military spending and the relevance of this purchase to the country's other needs. In 2015, two accidents involved Gripen aircraft in Hungary. It is common for such incidents to be thoroughly investigated in order to determine the causes and prevent recurrence. This can have an impact on decisions regarding the purchase of new aircraft, depending on what caused the accident.
That said, it should be noted that the choice of military equipment, including combat aircraft, is often a complex process involving not only technical considerations, but also political and financial factors. It is not uncommon for this process to take several years, involve intense political debate and require several votes before a final decision is taken.
Home Affairs sector[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The retirement age is a major topic of debate in many countries, including Switzerland. Due to demographic and economic changes, many governments are looking for ways to ensure the long-term viability of their pension systems. One of the options often considered is to increase the retirement age. If Mr Berset, as head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, has succeeded in raising the retirement age for women, it will probably mean that women in Switzerland will have to work longer before they can benefit from their retirement pensions. This measure may be controversial, as it could be seen as a reduction in workers' rights. However, its supporters generally argue that it is necessary to ensure the sustainability of pension systems.
The demographic situation in Switzerland, as in other Western countries, is a source of concern. The ageing of the population is leading to an increase in the number of people dependent on pension systems, while the proportion of workers of pensionable age is falling. This can put pressure on these systems and raise concerns about their long-term viability. Mr Berset's proposal to increase the retirement age for women is intended to alleviate some of these pressures. Predictably, however, the move is controversial. Many people, particularly those close to retirement age, may object to the idea of having to work longer than planned. Demonstrations and other forms of public protest are a common way for citizens to make known their dissatisfaction with such proposals. This can lead to political pressure to review, modify or even abandon such plans. However, this also depends on the scale of the protest and the degree of support that such measures may have among the general population. It will be interesting to see how this situation develops in Switzerland.
Economy, Education and Research sector[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Johann Schneider-Ammann, as the man responsible for the economy, education and research, should certainly have addressed the effects of the high value of the Swiss franc against the euro on the Swiss economy. The high value of the Swiss franc can make Swiss exports more expensive for foreign buyers, which could have a negative impact on Swiss companies. On the other hand, it can make imports cheaper, which could have an impact on certain sectors of the Swiss economy. However, in Switzerland, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) controls monetary policy and the exchange rate. The SNB is independent of the government and can make decisions without the approval of the Federal Council.
The exchange rate between the Swiss franc and the euro can have a significant impact on the Swiss economy. The high value of the Swiss franc makes Swiss exports more expensive for foreign buyers, which can harm the competitiveness of Swiss companies on international markets. Similarly, it can make imports cheaper, which can hurt some domestic industries. However, the government's scope for action on exchange rates is limited. In Switzerland, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is responsible for monetary policy, including exchange rate management. The SNB is an independent institution that can take decisions without the approval of the Federal Council. This does not mean, however, that the government cannot do anything. For example, it can introduce policies to help companies adapt to a strong franc, for example by supporting innovation or helping to develop new export markets. It can also pursue policies to strengthen the domestic economy and make Swiss industry more resilient to exchange rate fluctuations. However, all these measures take time and cannot provide immediate solutions to the problem of the high value of the Swiss franc.
The Human Brain project is a major neuroscience research project funded by the European Union as part of the Horizon 2020 programme. Its mission is to accurately model the human brain and reproduce its complexities in detailed computer models. It is an extremely ambitious project with a considerable budget. In a context where the Swiss franc is strong against the euro, this can create problems for Swiss researchers and institutions involved in EU-funded projects such as this. If the exchange rate goes from 1.2 Swiss francs to 1 euro at parity, this means that the purchasing power of research funds in euros falls by 20% in Switzerland. This can reduce the number of researchers who can be employed, or limit the resources available for research. In such a context, the role of the Swiss government and Mr Schneider-Ammann could include identifying ways to mitigate these effects, perhaps through additional funding or other forms of support for research. However, this could be a challenge given budgetary constraints and other political priorities.
Exchange rate stability is a crucial element for a country's economy, particularly for an open economy like Switzerland's which relies heavily on international trade. Major fluctuations in exchange rates can have serious repercussions for exporters, importers, investors and, ultimately, the economy as a whole. In the case of a strong appreciation of the Swiss franc against the euro, as has been the case in the past, this can make Swiss products more expensive for foreign buyers, which can harm the competitiveness of Swiss companies. In addition, it can also affect scientific research and other areas that depend on funding from the EU or other international sources. To mitigate these effects, the government can put in place various accompanying measures, which may include subsidies or financial aid for the most affected sectors, measures to stimulate domestic demand or efforts to encourage economic diversification. However, it is important to note that implementing these measures can be complex and requires a delicate balance between different economic and political objectives.
Finance Sector[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Doris Leuthard, Widmer-Schlumpf's predecessor as head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, has had to deal with a number of delicate issues that have put Switzerland's traditional image to the test.
For example, she has had to deal with criticism of Switzerland's energy policy, particularly with regard to the decision to phase out nuclear power after the Fukushima accident in 2011. This decision sparked intense public debate about the future of energy in Switzerland and called into question Switzerland's reputation as a country with a highly reliable energy infrastructure. In addition, Ms Leuthard also had to deal with the consequences of the Swiss National Bank's decision to abandon the Swiss franc's floor rate against the euro in 2015. This led to a rapid appreciation of the franc, which caused serious problems for many Swiss exporters and cast doubt on Switzerland's image as a haven of financial stability. Finally, Mrs Leuthard has also been involved in efforts to reform the Swiss transport system and to respond to the challenges posed by climate change, two issues that have also received extensive media coverage and sparked lively public debate.
In recent years, Switzerland has come under increasing international pressure to change its banking secrecy laws and practices, which have long been an integral part of the country's financial image. The traditional Swiss distinction between tax evasion (considered an administrative offence) and tax fraud (considered a crime) has been particularly criticised. Following the 2008 financial crisis, the United States and other countries stepped up their efforts to combat tax evasion. In 2009, the European Union and the United States implemented a series of measures to improve tax transparency and put an end to tax evasion. This led Switzerland to adhere to international standards for the exchange of tax information and gradually abandon its banking secrecy for foreign clients. The UBS affair in 2009, when the bank had to pay a $780 million fine and pass on the names of certain clients to the US authorities, marked a turning point. In 2014, Switzerland committed to adopting the OECD's automatic exchange of information standard, which came into force in 2018. In addition, Switzerland has also taken steps to strengthen its anti-money laundering legislation, including requiring greater transparency in the identification of account holders and strengthening the supervision and regulation of its financial institutions. These reforms were controversial in Switzerland, where banking secrecy and the distinction between tax evasion and tax fraud are deeply entrenched. However, in the face of international pressure, Switzerland has chosen to align itself with international standards on tax transparency and the fight against money laundering.
Lapsed funds were another important topic in Switzerland. Lapsed funds are financial assets that have remained in banks without contact with their owners for a long period of time. In Switzerland, these funds have attracted particular attention because of the country's banking secrecy and concerns about money deposited by victims of the Holocaust during the Second World War. In 1996, under international pressure, Swiss banks launched an investigation to identify dormant accounts belonging to Holocaust victims. In 1998, the Swiss banks reached an agreement to pay 1.25 billion dollars to Holocaust victims and their families. This marked an important turning point in the Swiss approach to unclaimed assets and led to greater transparency. In addition, Switzerland amended its money laundering law in 2015 to strengthen due diligence rules for banks. This includes a requirement for banks to clarify the beneficial owners of deposited funds, which has made it more difficult for Swiss banks to be used to hide illegally acquired funds. In sum, these changes in Swiss regulation, while controversial, have marked a break with some of the country's traditional financial practices and have led to greater transparency and accountability in the Swiss financial sector.
The distinction between international relations and political science can often be blurred, especially when it comes to public policy. The two disciplines overlap and complement each other in many areas. For example, subjects such as international trade, human rights, the environment or security issues involve both international relations and national politics. Political science focuses on the analysis of a country's internal political systems, the study of political behaviour and the functioning of political institutions. It examines how decisions are made within a country, how power is exercised and how citizens interact with their governments. International relations, on the other hand, focuses more on how countries interact with each other. They analyse how states and international organisations cooperate and negotiate on issues of common interest, how they manage conflicts and how decisions are taken at international level.
In the field of public policy, these two disciplines come together. For example, an environmental policy may require international negotiations on climate change, but it will also need to be implemented at national level, which requires an understanding of domestic political processes. Similarly, a trade policy may require both international agreements and national legislation. Thus, public policy analysis benefits from both political science and international relations perspectives, and often includes an analysis of how national and international dynamics meet and shape each other.
Foreign Affairs Sector[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Didier Burkhalter, a member of the Liberal-Radical Party (FDP), was head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in Switzerland from 2012 to 2017. His mission as head of the FDFA was to represent Switzerland abroad and coordinate Switzerland's foreign policy, including development cooperation and diplomatic relations with other countries and international organisations.
The refugee question is a key public policy issue, not just in Switzerland but worldwide. It involves issues of immigration, security, human rights, economic development and humanitarian aid. Within the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) works to reduce poverty and inequality around the world. The Human Security Division, also within the FDFA, deals with issues of peace, human rights and human security. Both organisations play a key role in the development of refugee and migration policies. The SDC can, for example, work to improve living conditions in refugees' countries of origin in order to prevent forced migration. It can also provide direct humanitarian aid to refugees in conflict zones. The Human Security Division, for its part, can work to promote human rights and ensure the safety of refugees. It can also play a role in developing policies and practices to ensure the safe and effective integration of refugees arriving in Switzerland. In addition, it is important to note that the refugee issue is also a major concern for other departments of the Swiss government, such as the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), which houses the Federal Office for Migration.
Summary of Public Policy Examples[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
We have taken a selective look at a large number of public policies in order to show the plurality of fields of intervention by the State, which are pre-structured by the administrative organisation of the executive power. Each federal councillor is both a member of the Federal Council (the Swiss government) and head of a federal department, which gives him or her considerable responsibility for public policy. This unique administrative organisation is the result of the Swiss Constitution, which provides for a collegiate system of government. This means that all the members of the Federal Council take decisions together, as a college, rather than having a single head of government. This contributes to Switzerland's political stability and promotes a consensual approach to decision-making. As a result, public policies in Switzerland are generally the result of negotiations and compromises between the various federal departments and stakeholders. This is reflected in the diversity and complexity of public policies, which cover a wide range of areas, from the economy and immigration to defence and education. It also highlights the importance of inter-departmental cooperation in the development and implementation of public policy. Each department has its own mandate and responsibilities, but they must work together to achieve the common goals of the Swiss government.
The Swiss political system, based on a strong collegiate system, offers considerable institutional stability. The number of members of the Federal Council, set at seven by the Constitution, has remained unchanged for over 170 years, as fixed as the Fulfirsten chains in the St. Welsh mountains. It is often pointed out that this rigidity contrasts with the flexibility shown by many other countries, where the number of ministers or secretaries of state can vary according to political needs or circumstances. Several attempts have been made to increase the number of federal councillors to nine, mainly to allow a broader representation of political parties and linguistic regions, but all have failed so far. One of the main reasons for this failure is the fact that any change to the Swiss Constitution requires a double referendum - a majority of the people and a majority of the cantons must approve it. This creates a major barrier to any constitutional change. In addition, the stability of the Swiss political system and its apparent success in building political and social consensus are often cited as reasons for not changing the number of federal councillors. It is therefore likely that the current system will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Each department within the Swiss federal government is subdivided into several offices, which are responsible for dealing with more specific policy areas. The Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), for example, comprises several offices, each focusing on a specific aspect of domestic policy, such as culture, gender equality or social security. These offices are headed by directors who are responsible for the day-to-day management and implementation of policies in their specific field. The Secretary General of the department, on the other hand, plays a coordinating role, ensuring effective liaison between the various offices and the head of the department, who is a member of the Federal Council. In this way, the Secretary General plays a key role in ensuring that all parts of the Department work coherently and harmoniously to achieve the objectives set by the Head of Department and by the Federal Council as a whole. He also ensures communication between the department and other government bodies, as well as with the public.
A secretariat of state is an entity within a ministerial department that plays a more specialised role and is often responsible for specific issues or important dossiers. State secretaries are generally senior civil servants appointed to represent the minister or department in certain specific areas, sometimes with an international remit. In Switzerland, for example, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs has a State Secretariat, headed by a State Secretary, which is responsible for foreign policy issues. This includes representing the department and Switzerland in certain international negotiations and multilateral forums. Other departments may also have State secretariats to manage specific policy areas or particularly important issues. This allows the minister to delegate part of his or her workload while maintaining appropriate supervision and control.
Each Secretary of State is responsible for directing policies and initiatives in their specific area. For example, Yves Rossier, as Secretary of State in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, would be responsible for conducting negotiations with the European Union and managing other aspects of Swiss foreign policy. Similarly, Mr Gattiker, as State Secretary for Migration Issues, would be responsible for managing and implementing Swiss migration policy, including coordination with international bodies and partner countries. In the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Ms Ineichen-Fleisch and Mr Dell'Ambrogio would be responsible respectively for issues relating to the economy and education, research and innovation. These areas may include managing trade relations, supporting Swiss businesses, encouraging research and innovation, and implementing education policies. These State Secretaries are key figures in the Swiss administration and play an important role in the development and implementation of public policy.
In a consensual political system such as Switzerland's, individuals, including members of the Federal Council, generally have less scope to significantly influence public policy than in a more partisan or majoritarian system. This is because decisions are often taken by consensus, with the aim of representing a wide range of interests and perspectives. That said, this does not mean that individuals have no impact. Mr Blocher's arrival in power has had a noticeable impact on certain policies, particularly on immigration and laws on foreigners. The General Secretaries and State Secretaries also play an important role in supporting and guiding the policies of their respective departments. Although they may be regarded as 'super civil servants', they in fact make a significant contribution to the implementation and direction of public policy. It is also important to note that even in a consensual system, changes in personnel can have an impact on the priorities and direction of a department or policy. This can be the case when new members of the Federal Council bring with them new ideas or new priorities.
The importance of public policies varies according to the department and the context. For example, a department focused on health or education may have public policies that have a direct and tangible impact on the daily lives of citizens, whereas a department focused on more specific or technical issues may have public policies whose impact is less immediate or visible. Moreover, the importance of a public policy is not measured solely in terms of visibility or immediate impact. Public policies in areas such as research, innovation, defence or foreign affairs can have profound and lasting impacts on society, even if these impacts are not always immediately visible. It is also important to note that the importance of a public policy can vary depending on the context. For example, a public policy relating to crisis management or emergency situations may become extremely important during a crisis, even if it is less visible in normal times.
The importance that the Swiss political system attributes to different issues and public policies can be gauged by looking at the distribution of staff between the various departments. With around 38,000 employees in total, almost 30% (or around 11,400 people) are assigned to the Department of Defence. This underlines the importance attached to national security and defence. By comparison, the Department of the Interior, which deals with Switzerland's internal affairs, employs around 2,200 people, or around 6% of the total civil service workforce. This could indicate a lower priority given to these issues, or simply reflect the nature of the tasks carried out in this department, which would require fewer staff. It is important to stress that these figures are a gross measure and do not take into account factors such as operational efficiency or the level of service provided by each department.
Examining the distribution of staff within the various departments is only one indicator among others for assessing the importance of public policies. Another method is to examine the distribution of public spending between different policies. This approach can provide a more complete picture of the relative importance attached to each policy. Financial resources include the funds allocated to each department to carry out its activities. This may include expenditure on staff, infrastructure, programmes, services, research and development, and other relevant areas. It is important to note that the amount of expenditure allocated to a public policy does not necessarily reflect its strategic importance or priority for government. Some policies may require less spending but have a significant impact, while others may require significant investment but have a more limited impact. It is therefore useful to consider a combination of indicators, such as the distribution of staff and spending, as well as other factors such as the government's strategic objectives, to assess the relative importance of different public policies.
Looking at these two examples, we can see that only 6.4 billion is allocated to defence, which represents just under 10% of the total budget. By comparison, the Federal Department of Home Affairs manages around 17 billion, which corresponds to more than a quarter of the total budget. This breakdown reveals a significant disproportion between the number of civil servants working in each department and the budget that these civil servants manage. This analysis shows that the number of civil servants and the budget are not always correlated, and highlights the complexity of resource allocation in the context of public policy.
It is interesting to note the disproportion between the number of civil servants assigned to a department and the budget for that department. Defence, for example, employs a large number of civil servants but represents only a small fraction of the total budget, whereas the Federal Department of Home Affairs manages a significant proportion of the budget with a relatively smaller number of civil servants. This can be explained by a number of factors. The cost of projects and initiatives carried out by each department can vary considerably. For example, some public policies may require significant expenditure on infrastructure or technology, while others may mainly require staff to implement programmes. In addition, some departments may have a larger proportion of their budget dedicated to aid or subsidy programmes, which do not necessarily require a large number of civil servants to manage. Therefore, although the number of civil servants and the budget are two useful indicators for understanding the relative importance of different public policies, they do not give a complete picture. To obtain a more nuanced understanding, it is necessary to take into account the specifics of each public policy, including the types of expenditure required and the way in which this expenditure is managed.
These two indicators, while useful, do not provide a complete understanding of the importance of the various public policies. Some crucially important policies may require few staff and have little budgetary impact. These include so-called "moral" issues, such as abortion policy. This issue has polarised the Swiss political scene for decades, although the financial implications or the number of civil servants needed to manage it are not very high. This underlines the fact that the importance of a public policy is measured not just by its budgetary dimension or the number of people involved in implementing it, but also by its societal impact and symbolic significance.
If we look at this graph, it shows the Confederation's income and expenditure. The Confederation spends around CHF 63.7 billion. The largest expenditure, accounting for almost a third of the budget, is in the area of social insurance and social welfare. This includes invalidity insurance, old age and survivors' insurance, and unemployment insurance. These services are typically managed by the Federal Department of Home Affairs, which employs only 6% of civil servants. National defence, on the other hand, accounts for less than 8% of the budget, which highlights the discrepancy between the number of civil servants and the budget allocation for different public policies.
The green portion of the chart shows the Confederation's revenues, which come mainly from direct taxation and value-added tax (VAT) levied on various goods and services consumed by the public. This financial pattern is something that many other countries can only dream of, since revenues exceed expenditure. In fact, there is a surplus of 65 billion francs in revenue compared with 63.7 billion francs in expenditure. Some even describe this surplus as "profits", which is particularly enviable for the residents of Geneva, for example.
This exceptional situation is due to a mechanism introduced in 2003 at federal level, known as the "debt brake". This principle stipulates that we are not allowed to spend more than we receive in revenue, which obliges us to balance public budgets, at least over an economic cycle. Of course, it is possible to have overspending during a period of recession, but this spending must be offset by budget surpluses during periods of economic growth, as appears to be the case at present.
The rigorous management of public finances in Switzerland is mainly governed by the debt brake mechanism, introduced in 2003. The aim of this mechanism is to maintain a balanced budget over the long term, meaning that expenditure cannot exceed revenue over a cyclical period. This means that during an economic recession, the government can decide to increase spending to stimulate the economy, but it must then compensate with budget surpluses during a period of growth. This balancing rule forces policymakers to exercise rigorous budgetary discipline, encouraging prudent management and efficient use of public financial resources. As a result, despite economic cycles and political pressure to increase spending in certain areas, Switzerland has managed to maintain its public finances in a healthy state, avoiding public debt crises such as those seen in Greece, Spain and France. This financial stability has helped to reinforce credibility and confidence in the Swiss economy, which is an important asset in an uncertain global economic climate.
This graph shows the gross debt of the various entities in the Swiss public system - the Confederation, the cantons, the municipalities and the social security funds - and the trend in the debt ratio over a given period. It shows a gradual reduction in the debt ratio, indicating a reduction in debt as a proportion of national wealth, i.e. gross domestic product (GDP). This means that the Swiss public entities, by combining their budgets, have not only managed to maintain a balance between their revenue and expenditure, but have also been able to gradually reduce the amount of their debt in both absolute and relative terms. This situation illustrates the rigour and efficiency of public financial management in Switzerland, an aspect that is admired by many neighbouring countries. In fact, a declining debt ratio indicates sound management of public finances, with control over spending and efficient use of resources. It also boosts the confidence of investors and economic partners, which is particularly advantageous in a complex and uncertain global economic climate.
This graph compares the debt-to-GDP ratio in eurozone countries with that of Switzerland. The Maastricht criteria, established to regulate the admission of countries to the eurozone, stipulate that the ratio of public debt to GDP must not exceed 60%. This is a measure of a country's financial health and its ability to manage its debt. Ironically, most of the countries currently in the eurozone do not respect this rule, which they themselves established. In contrast, Switzerland, which is not a member of the eurozone and is therefore not obliged to respect these criteria, manages to keep its debt ratio below the 60% threshold. This demonstrates the rigour of Swiss financial management and its voluntary commitment to a sound and sustainable economic policy. So, even though Switzerland has no intention of joining the eurozone, it de facto complies with the Maastricht criteria, which testifies to a solid financial situation and a serious commitment to budgetary discipline.
Switzerland has shown a voluntary and rigorous commitment to the application of European standards and directives, even though it is not a member of the European Union. Not only has it succeeded in effectively implementing a multitude of European directives, but it has also often outperformed EU member countries in this area. This reflects Switzerland's broader orientation towards prudent and responsible management of public affairs. In terms of public finances, Switzerland has embarked on a programme of consolidation aimed at reducing spending and maintaining a sound fiscal position. This has contributed to its low debt ratio and relative economic stability compared with other countries. In other words, Switzerland has demonstrated that it is capable of respecting and applying strict rules, whether self-imposed or in line with international standards, in order to maintain a strong and stable economy.
Managing budgetary and financial constraints is crucial to understanding the resources available when implementing public policy. This helps to set priorities, balance demands from different sectors, and ensure that resources are used efficiently and responsibly. The size of the budget allocated to a public policy, and the way in which these funds are managed, can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of that policy. At the same time, resource constraints can stimulate innovation and efficiency, as they encourage more cost-effective and efficient ways of achieving policy objectives. Furthermore, prudent management of public debt and budgets is essential to maintain the confidence of citizens, investors and international partners in a country's ability to manage its economic affairs. In this sense, Switzerland's approach to budget and debt management has contributed to its reputation as a stable and responsible economy.
Switzerland decided to slightly increase the resources devoted to intelligence following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercasher in France in 2015. This is an example of how public policy can be adjusted in response to external events, particularly when they concern issues of national security. The increase in intelligence resources, albeit relatively modest, demonstrates recognition of the need to increase surveillance and investigative capacity to prevent terrorist attacks. That said, the fact that this increase was subsequently reduced may indicate an assessment that the additional resources were not necessarily justified by the perceived level of threat, or that there were other budgetary constraints or priorities to consider. It is important to note that determining the appropriate level of resources for national security is a complex issue that requires a balance between security needs and other considerations, such as budgetary constraints, civil rights and political priorities.
The number of civil servants working in a department and the department's budget are just two indicators of the importance a government attaches to different public policies. That said, they provide a useful starting point for understanding how resources are allocated and what the government's apparent priorities are. Each ministry or department has a unique mission and specific responsibilities, and the number of civil servants or the budget are not necessarily direct reflections of the importance or priority of a public policy. For example, a department may have a relatively small budget but be responsible for a crucial public policy. Similarly, a department may require a large number of civil servants to achieve its objectives, even if these objectives are not necessarily the highest in terms of political priority. It is also important to note that the number of civil servants and the budget of a department may change over time in response to changing political priorities, emerging issues, economic changes or other factors. In sum, while the number of civil servants and the budget are useful indicators, it is essential to consider them in the wider context of the objectives and priorities of each department and of government as a whole.
Definition and understanding of public policy[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Public policy can be defined as the set of actions, decisions and commitments taken by a government to resolve a problem or issue of public interest. It can take many forms, including laws, regulations, court decisions, government programmes or initiatives.
More specifically, public policy has several key elements:
- Objective: The aim of public policy is to solve a specific problem or answer a specific question that concerns the public.
- Actors: It involves a variety of actors, including government officials, public bodies, interest groups, non-governmental organisations and sometimes even the public.
- Process: Public policy is the result of a process that includes identifying a problem, formulating possible solutions, making a decision, implementing the policy and, finally, evaluating its effectiveness.
- Resources: Implementing a public policy requires resources, such as funds, staff, technology, etc.
- Impacts: Finally, a public policy has impacts or consequences that can be measured or evaluated.
This definition can be applied to any public policy, whether it concerns health, education, safety, environmental protection, social justice or any other area of government responsibility.
A public policy, according to the working definition, is an ordered sequence of decisions and actions, deliberately designed to fit together, carried out by various public players with the ultimate aim of resolving an issue of collective interest. This definition suggests a more dynamic and interconnected approach to public policy. According to this definition :
- Sequencing of decisions and activities: This emphasises the continuous and interconnected process of public policy, which is not a single decision or action, but a series of successive and complementary actions.
- Intentionally coherent: This emphasises that the actions and decisions taken as part of a public policy are deliberate and aimed at achieving a common objective. They are not random or contradictory, but designed to reinforce each other and work together towards a specific objective.
- Taken by different public actors: This reflects the fact that public policy is not the sole responsibility of a single body or actor. Instead, it involves a variety of actors - including civil servants, government agencies, and sometimes non-governmental organisations and the public - working together to develop and implement the policy.
- To solve a collective problem: This is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of the definition. The main objective of any public policy is to solve a problem that affects society as a whole.
This definition provides a framework for understanding and assessing how public policies are developed and implemented, and how they aim to solve societal problems.
Public policy analysis is based on the idea that the state has a central role to play in tackling and resolving collective problems, be they environmental, social or economic. These problems are often too big or too complex to be solved by individuals or private organisations alone. They require the intervention of the state, which has the resources and power to implement large-scale solutions. The instrumental perspective of the state suggests that the state is not a passive actor that simply reacts to problems as they arise. On the contrary, it is an active actor that makes strategic decisions and takes targeted action to solve identified problems. This may involve defining policy objectives, implementing programmes and initiatives, and mobilising resources to achieve these objectives.
The implementation of public policy often involves a multitude of actors, including national and local governments, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and sometimes the private sector. Each actor may have different priorities, objectives and approaches, making the implementation of public policy a complex process that requires close coordination and cooperation between the different actors. In addition, the formulation of public policies is also influenced by the social, political and economic context in which they are developed. Political actors must take these factors into account when devising policies to solve collective problems. In summary, the state's instrumental perspective emphasises the state's active role in solving collective problems through the formulation and implementation of public policies. However, this process is complex and requires coordination between many different actors and an understanding of the context in which policies are developed.
Solving collective problems usually involves a diverse range of public actors who need to work in tandem. This can include government departments and agencies from different fields, ranging from the economy to the environment, from education to health, and even from different levels of government - local, regional and national. Take unemployment, for example. This is not just an employment policy issue, but can also involve aspects of education (vocational training, skills needed on the labour market), the economy (stimulating economic growth, job creation), social security (unemployment benefits) and many other areas. In addition, this problem may require coordination between different levels of government, as some aspects fall within local or regional competence, while others can be managed at national level. The issue of water pollution by phosphates is another example. Solving this problem may require the involvement of ministries such as Environment, Agriculture and Health, as well as local water agencies and other government bodies. In short, the wide range of players involved in solving collective problems underlines the importance of effective collaboration and coordination if successful public policies are to be achieved. This is not an easy task, as each actor may have its own priorities, constraints and perspectives, but it is essential if effective and sustainable solutions are to be achieved.
Implementing public policy is often a collective effort that requires the participation of stakeholders at different levels of governance. This is particularly true in a federal system such as Switzerland's, where responsibilities are divided between the confederation, the cantons and the municipalities. The confederation often defines the broad outlines of policies, while the cantons and municipalities are responsible for implementing them at their own level, according to specific needs and local realities. In education and health, for example, the guidelines are often laid down at federal level, but it is up to the cantons and municipalities to adapt and apply them on the ground. In some cases, private players may also be involved in implementing public policies, either as partners or as service providers. For example, private companies may be responsible for constructing roads or public buildings, or non-governmental organisations may be involved in providing social services. This is known as "network governance", where different actors, public and private, work together to achieve a common goal. However, while this approach can offer a degree of flexibility and efficiency, it also requires close coordination and regulation to ensure that public policy objectives are achieved equitably and in accordance with public standards and principles.
Coordination between the different actors involved in implementing public policy is crucial, but it can be complex and difficult to achieve. The challenges of coordination can be attributed to a number of factors.
- Different organisations: The various players come from different organisations, each with its own structures, cultures and procedures. How they work can vary, making it difficult to collaborate and align towards a common goal.
- Divergent interests: Each stakeholder has its own perspective and may have particular interests, which may not always be aligned with public policy objectives. This divergence can lead to conflict or compromise, which must be managed to ensure effective implementation.
- Variable resources: Stakeholders have different resources (financial, human, informational), which can create imbalances of power and influence. These differences can affect stakeholders' ability to contribute to public policy and require careful management and allocation of resources.
- Knowledge and information: Stakeholders may have different levels of knowledge and information about the problem to be solved. This can lead to misunderstandings or differences of opinion on the best way to deal with the problem.
To overcome these challenges, effective coordination requires clear and regular communication, strong leadership, transparent and participative decision-making, and a fair distribution of resources and responsibilities. Sometimes a "coordinator" or "mediator" can be appointed to facilitate this coordination and help resolve any conflicts or problems that may arise.
Security management, particularly border control, requires careful coordination between several entities. Each actor has a specific role to play, but all must work together to achieve the common goal of national security. Here's how it could work:
- Federal police: The federal police play a supervisory and coordinating role in ensuring that other agencies follow and implement policies and directives appropriately. It may also be responsible for dealing with large-scale offences and crimes that are beyond the remit of local or regional police forces.
- Army: The army can be involved in border security by providing additional support in terms of personnel and equipment, especially in situations of crisis or imminent threat. It can also play a role in situations where military expertise is required, for example in detecting and neutralising terrorist threats.
- Border guards: Border guards are responsible for the day-to-day management of border control, including passport control, inspection of goods and processing people entering or leaving the country.
- Cantonal police: Cantonal police also play an important role in supporting border control operations at a more local level. They may be responsible for managing offences and crimes within their respective jurisdictions and coordinating with other actors to ensure overall security.
The key to this complex coordination is clear and effective communication between the different entities, the establishment of clear protocols and procedures, and a mutual understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each actor.
Public policy is not something tangible or clearly defined, such as a book or a specific law. It is a concept that researchers and analysts construct to understand how governments and other public actors interact to solve societal problems. Public policy is a conceptual entity that takes into account a multitude of decisions, activities, processes and interactions that take place between multiple actors, often over a long period of time and at several levels of government. It can involve various forms of action, ranging from formal laws to less formal regulations, awareness-raising initiatives or subsidy programmes. Reconstructing public policy in order to analyse it therefore requires gathering a great deal of information and understanding how it is interconnected. This may involve mapping the actors involved, understanding their motivations and actions, analysing the decisions taken and their impact, and exploring the interactions and dynamics between the different actors and processes.
Analysing public policy requires meticulous reconstruction on the part of the analyst. It is not something that is pre-existing or easily identifiable in a report or book. On the contrary, the analyst must proceed systematically, first identifying the problem to be solved. Next, they must identify the players involved, their role, their influence and their interactions. Finally, he must analyse the actions taken by these different players. This process of deconstruction and reconstruction makes it possible to understand the complex, multi-dimensional dynamics of public policy, going beyond a simple linear reading of events.
How might public policy be analysed? Initially, the systems approach was the first method proposed to tackle this question. This was followed by the introduction of the concept of the public policy cycle, which will play a structuring role in future discussions.
Easton's Systems Approach: A Method of Analysis[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
David Easton is one of the most influential pioneers in the field of public policy analysis. He introduced a systems approach to analysing public policy, highlighting its crucial position in the political system as a whole. David Easton, a Canadian political scientist, is famous for his systems approach to the study of political systems, which has also been applied to the analysis of public policy. According to Easton, the political system functions as a kind of "black box" where different elements enter and leave.
According to his model, the "political system" receives "inputs" in the form of demands and support from society. These inputs may be problems that citizens wish to solve, requests for new laws or changes to existing policies, or support for specific policies or leaders. These inputs are then processed by the political system through a series of political processes (also referred to as the "black box"), such as decision-making, policy implementation, etc. It is at this stage that policy-makers, bureaucracies and other political actors come into play to transform these demands into concrete public policies. Finally, the system produces outputs in the form of decisions, actions and policies that have an impact on society. These outputs can then create new demands or support, creating a continuous feedback cycle. This systemic model emphasises the interactive and interdependent nature of the different elements of the political system and society. It also provides an overview of how public policy is formed and changed within this complex system. Easton's contribution to public policy analysis laid the foundations for the policy cycle approach.
The concept of systemism, or the systems approach, is fundamental to the study of public policy and politics in general. According to this approach, political phenomena are seen as part of a complex system in which all the elements are interconnected and interdependent. In such a system, each component has an impact on the others. This means that actions or changes in one aspect of the system can have cascading effects on the other parts. For example, a change in public opinion can influence the way policies are formulated, which in turn can have an impact on society and lead to further changes in public opinion. Another key aspect of systemism is the idea of neo-static equilibrium. This means that although the political system may change and evolve over time, it always tends towards a certain state of equilibrium. This is not a static equilibrium where everything remains unchanged, but rather a dynamic equilibrium that allows for adaptation and change while maintaining the stability of the system as a whole. This systemic vision provides a valuable perspective for understanding politics and public policy complexities. It emphasises the importance of the relationships and interactions between the different elements of the political system, and highlights how changes in one part of the system can have far-reaching implications for the system as a whole.
David Easton has proposed a way of conceptualising public policy by integrating it into a political system framework. According to Easton, the political system generally comprises several main entities, including the government (executive), parliament (legislative), the judiciary (justice), and public administration (bureaucracy). These entities interact and work together within the political system to make decisions and take action. These decisions and actions constitute what we call "public policy". For example, a government decision to introduce a new education law, followed by its adoption by parliament, its implementation by the administration and its enforcement by the judiciary, would be an illustration of a public policy. Thus, in Easton's framework, public policy is the result of complex interactions and decisions within the political system. Each component of the system has a role to play in shaping, implementing and evaluating public policy.
Why does the public policy system suddenly decide to intervene in an area and invest resources?
According to the systemic approach to public policy, the political system's decision to intervene in a specific area and allocate resources is generally the result of demands and support emanating from society. Requests generally come from actors in society who want the state to intervene in a particular area. For example, a group of students may ask the state to provide more study grants despite budget restrictions. However, it is not easy to formulate demands and have them heard by the government, which is faced with a multitude of demands and has to make decisions on which to prioritise. At the same time, the government also receives different levels of support from various groups. This support can sometimes come from the same groups that are making the requests. For example, a group of companies may simultaneously ask for a reduction in taxes and support the State by contributing to the economy and creating jobs. In this way, the interaction between demands and support helps to determine the areas in which the political system decides to intervene and the resources it decides to invest. The state must balance these demands and supports in order to make effective public policy decisions.
For example, farmers' associations, faced with an increasingly liberalised agricultural market, could ask for more support from the State. This could take the form of subsidies, favourable regulations or support programmes. In return, these associations could support the state by giving their backing to a particular political party, such as the SVP. Before it became a radical right-wing party, the SVP had mainly an agrarian base and was seen as the farmers' party. So by supporting the SVP and its representatives in parliament, government and even the administration, farmers' associations could hope to influence public policy in favour of their demands. This is a good illustration of how the dynamics of demands and support can shape public policy decisions taken by the political system. However, it is important to note that many other factors can also play a role, such as political priorities, budgetary constraints, economic conditions and international pressures, to name but a few.
The development of public policy is a direct response to these demands and supports. In the previous example, the political system might decide to support farmers by introducing a policy of direct payments. These direct payments, essentially subsidies, would be a concrete measure adopted by the political system in response to the demands of farmers' associations. It is important to note that the development and implementation of public policies is a complex process that can involve a multitude of actors - governments, parliaments, public administrations, interest groups, etc. - as well as the assessment of various factors. - as well as the assessment of various factors, including financial costs, political and social implications, and the potential impact on the economic and regulatory environment. Moreover, once implemented, public policies can also have a variety of effects, both expected and unexpected, which in turn can generate new demands and support, creating a continuous cycle of public policies.
The systems approach sees public policy as an integral part of a dynamic system, in equilibrium thanks to feedback, also known as a feedback loop. In simple terms, if the public policies implemented respond effectively to the initial demands (e.g. support for farmers in our previous example), then support for the policy system, and therefore for the policy in question, is maintained. However, if these public policies do not respond satisfactorily to demands, then this may result in a loss of support for the policy system and may trigger a process of reassessment or modification of the policy. This feedback system ensures that the political system remains adaptable and responds to changes and demands from society.
For example, the bankers (a group of key players in society) are asking the government not to intervene significantly in the banking sector. To support this demand, they may, for example, provide significant funding to political parties or individuals who agree with this position (again, this is a hypothetical scenario). In response to this demand, and perhaps because of the financial support received, the government may decide not to implement a rigorous public policy on banking regulation. Instead, it may choose to delegate this responsibility to an organisation such as the Swiss Bankers Association. In this case, the feedback could be in the form of the bankers' satisfaction with this decision and their continued support for those in government who supported their request. Once again, the system is considered to be in equilibrium as long as the demands of the key players are met by the public policies in place. However, if the consequences of this policy (or lack of policy) lead to wider problems, such as financial crises or growing socio-economic inequalities, then other actors in society may begin to press for greater state intervention. This could upset the current balance and trigger a process of revision or modification of public policy.
Another scenario is that of a group of environmentally conscious citizens who might demand that the state take steps to protect the country's natural landscapes. In support of this demand, they might promise not to launch a popular initiative or to challenge government decisions in court, provided the state responds positively to their request. In response to this request, and perhaps to avoid a potential legal conflict or a popular initiative process, the State could then decide to implement landscape protection policies. These policies could take different forms, such as the establishment of national parks, the prohibition of certain forms of development in specific areas, or the introduction of regulations on land use practices. If these public policies respond effectively to the demands of the citizens concerned, then, according to the systemic perspective, the system would be considered to be in equilibrium. Citizens satisfied with the protection of the landscape could continue to support the government and not launch popular initiatives or legal challenges. However, as in the previous scenarios, if other problems emerge or other stakeholder groups express conflicting demands (for example, property developers wishing to build in these protected areas), the current equilibrium could be upset and a reassessment of public policy might be necessary.
In this systemic perspective, public policy plays a central and vital role. It acts as a pivot between citizens' demands and support and the political system's overall functioning. Its quality and effectiveness can directly influence the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the actors who have formulated demands or offered support. If public policy is effective and responds well to citizens' demands, this can strengthen support for the state and maintain the equilibrium of the political system. On the other hand, if public policies are judged to be unsatisfactory or ineffective, this can lead to dissatisfaction among citizens, which in turn can lead to a questioning of the existing political system and potentially to disruption of the equilibrium of the system.
This systemic model of public policy can be linked to the theory of democracy. Democracy, often defined as "government of the people, by the people and for the people", emphasises the importance of the active participation of citizens in the political process. In this context, the democratic management of the State implies that all citizens have the opportunity to formulate demands and claims by benefiting from freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In addition, it implies that citizens have the capacity to support the political actors, parties or policies of their choice through mechanisms such as voting. So this systemic model illustrates how a democracy works in practice. It highlights the continuous interaction between citizens' demands and support, political decisions and public policies. It shows that, in a democracy, public policy is the result of a complex and dynamic process of interaction between citizens and political actors. This also means that public policy must be constantly evaluated and revised to reflect the changing demands and support of citizens.
Democracy, as government by the people, emphasises citizen participation and the ability to articulate demands to the state. This is often seen as the primary legitimacy of the state in a democracy. However, democracy is more than just holding votes. Indeed, when seeking to transform non-democratic political systems into democracies, focusing solely on organising votes is often insufficient. A fully functioning democracy also requires other essential elements such as respect for civil liberties, a free and independent press, an independent judiciary, protection of minorities, respect for human rights, an efficient and honest public administration, and government transparency. Free and fair elections are just one aspect of democracy. For a democracy to be solid and sustainable, it is important to consider these other aspects and work to strengthen them.
This graph highlights a second essential dimension of democracy, namely government for the people. This underlines the importance of public policies that are designed to serve citizens and solve their problems. In this context, public policies are not just actions taken by the state, but also a means of responding to the needs and concerns of citizens. This is what is known as the secondary legitimacy of the State in a democracy. It underlines the importance of the state's ability to respond effectively to citizens' demands and to provide quality public services. In fact, the state's legitimacy in a democracy depends as much on its ability to respond to citizens' demands (primary legitimacy) as on its ability to implement effective public policies that meet their needs (secondary legitimacy). Thus, a healthy and robust democracy requires not only the active participation of citizens, but also effective and responsive government action that meets the population's needs.
This model highlights the need for a dual form of legitimacy for any state: primary legitimacy, which is ensured by the people's participation in government, and secondary legitimacy, which is guaranteed by the fact that the state acts for the good of the people. Both forms of legitimacy are necessary to maintain the equilibrium of the political system. The quality of public policy - or of the state's outputs - lies at the heart of this balance. Even when we are looking at issues of a democratic nature or issues related to the type of political regime, it is important to also focus on the results of the state, i.e., the implemented public policies. These public policies are essential for meeting citizens' needs and solving collective problems. They are also essential for ensuring the legitimacy of the State in the eyes of citizens. In this sense, public policy analysis is an essential tool for understanding how a state functions and how it meets (or fails to meet) the needs of its citizens.
The Public Policy Cycle[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
While the systemic model provides an overview of how public policy is formed in response to demands and supports, it does not detail the specific processes that take place inside the state, in other words inside the 'black box'. This lack of detail on the internal mechanics of the public policy formulation process has raised questions and led to the development of the public policy cycle model. This model seeks to break down the policy formulation process into a number of distinct phases, allowing for a more detailed analysis of each stage. The policy cycle could include stages such as problem definition, policy development, decision-making, implementation and evaluation. The idea is to understand how problems are identified and defined, how solutions are developed and chosen, how policies are implemented, and how their results are evaluated. By breaking down the process in this way, analysts can better understand how public policy is developed and can identify potential points of intervention to influence policy.
The policy cycle approach that developed in the 1970s made a significant contribution to public policy analysis. It enabled the process of creating public policy to be broken down into a series of clearly defined stages, making it easier to understand and analyse. The approach has enabled public policy to be approached as a response to identified collective problems. This perspective has helped to examine how public problems are defined, how solutions are developed and chosen, and how they are implemented and evaluated. In this way, the policy cycle approach has provided a framework for understanding not only the products of public policy, but also the processes by which these policies are developed and implemented.
The emergence of a problem[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The first stage in the public policy cycle, according to this model, is the emergence of a problem. This is usually a social issue or challenge that requires policy intervention. It is crucial that this problem is perceived and recognised by the stakeholders concerned, whether private or public. These stakeholders may be pressure groups, non-governmental organisations, experts or researchers, citizens, companies, or even politicians and civil servants. The second stage is to put the issue on the agenda, i.e. to recognise that it requires government intervention. It is declared a priority and must be addressed. This is a crucial stage because not all perceived problems make it onto the political agenda. Inclusion on the agenda can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as media pressure, lobbying activities, social movements, tragic events, economic fluctuations, political priorities and so on. These first two stages in the public policy cycle underline the importance of recognising and defining a problem, and the need for government intervention. They also demonstrate the constant interaction between public and private players in the formulation of public policy.
Access to the government agenda is a major challenge in the public policy process. The world of problems is vast, and every day brings its share of new potential concerns. However, the political, administrative and financial resources available to address these issues are limited. As a result, only a few problems manage to make it through this crucial stage and become policy issues. It should also be noted that inclusion on the agenda does not simply mean that the problem has been recognised. It is also a stage where problems are defined and interpreted, and where stakeholders begin to sketch out potential solutions. The stakeholders involved may have different visions of what the problem is, its causes and consequences, and therefore of the appropriate solutions. That said, succeeding in putting a problem on the political agenda is a significant achievement. It's the first step towards getting the state to intervene. But it is only the beginning of the public policy process. The next steps will require negotiation, compromise and difficult decisions.
Formulation phase: Putting the problem on the government agenda[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
Once a problem has been identified and placed on the government agenda, the policy formulation phase can begin. This phase involves identifying and developing different options or solutions to address the problem. During this phase, a wide range of stakeholders - such as ministries, government agencies, experts, pressure groups and sometimes the public - may be involved in the discussion and formulation of these options. This is usually a phase of intense debate and exchange of ideas, where different perspectives and interests come into play. Once the various options have been examined and debated, the decision phase begins. This is where the political decision-makers, often ministers or government agencies, choose a public policy option from among those proposed. The choice is generally made on the basis of a number of factors, such as costs, benefits, political and social acceptability, and alignment with the government's wider objectives. Once the decision has been made, the policy is implemented - often by the public administration - and finally evaluated to determine whether it has succeeded in solving the problem for which it was designed. If the evaluation shows that the problem has not been solved, or that new problems have arisen, the public policy cycle can begin again.
The formulation of the alternative and the adoption of the solution are crucial phases in the public policy process, which generally involve the interaction of various government bodies. The administration plays a key role by providing technical expertise, preparing draft legislation and formulating policy alternatives based on feasibility studies, cost-benefit analyses, etc. The government, represented by ministers or the cabinet, generally plays a leadership role by setting the political agenda, taking key policy decisions and coordinating the various administrative entities. Parliament, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in examining, amending and adopting legislation. In addition, in some countries, the legislation adopted may be subject to a referendum, which is a form of popular vote. This involves the people in the formal adoption of public policy, which can strengthen the legitimacy of the policy and promote its acceptance by the public. It should also be noted that this process can vary from country to country depending on the political system and administrative tradition. For example, in some countries the policy-making process may be more participatory, with greater involvement of citizens or non-governmental stakeholders.
The Swiss political system is a model of semi-direct democracy, which allows a high degree of citizen participation in the development of legislation and public policy. Here's how it generally works in terms of formulating and adopting public policy:
- Preparatory phase (Formulation): This is where the government, usually through its ministries and departments, develops a policy or legislative proposal. It is a labour-intensive phase involving research, consultation with experts and relevant stakeholders, and the preparation of detailed policy documents.
- Parliamentary phase (Debate and Decision): Once the proposal has been formulated, it is presented to Parliament for debate and approval. This usually involves a committee examination, plenary debates and a final vote. Parliament may amend the proposal before approving it.
- Referendum phase (Optional or mandatory referendum): In Switzerland, once a law has been passed by parliament, it can be put to a referendum. Certain types of legislation, such as constitutional amendments, require a mandatory referendum. For other types of legislation, an optional referendum can be held if a certain number of citizens request it. If the referendum succeeds, the law is passed; if it fails, the law is rejected.
This structure offers many opportunities for citizen involvement and democratic control, but it can also make the policy-making process quite complex and time-consuming.
Implementation: Execution of the Adopted Policy or Law[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The third phase of the public policy cycle is the implementation of the law or policy that has been adopted. This crucial phase is usually conducted by the various administrative or executive branches of government. At this stage, it is essential to translate the adopted legislation into tangible actions. The stages usually observed are as follows:
- Development of regulations and guidelines: Once a law has been passed, the administration responsible for implementing it usually develops more detailed regulations and guidelines to explain how the law is to be applied. This stage may involve collaboration with other government agencies, experts in the field, relevant stakeholders and the public.
- Implementation: This is the application of the regulations and guidelines to achieve the objectives specified in the law. This phase can include a variety of activities, from resource management and service delivery to enforcement and regulation.
- Monitoring: Throughout the implementation process, the administration is responsible for monitoring the progress of law enforcement. This may include collecting data, analysing results and adjusting practices if necessary.
Implementing public policy is often a complex process that requires careful planning, effective coordination and clear communication. Many challenges can arise, such as resistance from stakeholders, budgetary constraints and bureaucratic obstacles.
Evaluation: Policy Impact Analysis[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The final phase of the public policy cycle, known as the evaluation phase, is crucial in determining the effectiveness of the policy implemented. This phase focuses on assessing the results and impacts of the policy. Evaluation can be seen as a post-hoc reflection on the success of the policy and how it was implemented.
- Evaluation of results: This involves examining whether the objectives set by the policy have been achieved. Performance indicators are often used to measure the effectiveness of a policy. Results can be measured in terms of effectiveness (the extent to which objectives have been achieved) and efficiency (the extent to which resources have been used effectively).
- Impact assessment: This part of the assessment focuses on the overall effect of the policy on society, the economy and the environment. It can include factors such as the social, economic and environmental costs and benefits of the policy.
This evaluation phase is essential if changes and improvements are to be made to the current policy. It helps to identify challenges and problems encountered in implementing the policy, to learn from these challenges and to implement changes to improve the policy. It also provides valuable information that can be used to design future policies.
The evaluation phase is a crucial stage in the public policy process, as it enables us to determine whether the efforts made have had the desired effect. This phase generally involves an in-depth analysis to examine whether the initial problem has been correctly understood and addressed. Firstly, the evaluation looks at the implementation of the law: has it been applied as intended? Have the planned measures been properly put in place? Have the obstacles to implementation been identified and overcome? This stage is crucial to understanding whether the law has been implemented effectively and efficiently. Next, the evaluation looks at the wording of the law: was it appropriate for solving the problem in question? Were the objectives clear and achievable? Were the proposed solutions appropriate given the nature of the problem? Finally, the evaluation looks at the initial definition and understanding of the problem. Was the problem correctly identified and defined? Were the underlying causes taken into account? Have the symptoms been treated rather than the root causes? These three elements of evaluation aim to understand whether public policy has been successful in solving the problem it set out to address, and offer valuable lessons for future policy. It's an opportunity for policymakers and practitioners to learn and constantly improve.
Again, it's not clear that this cycle runs in a perfectly linear fashion, with the majority of public policies never really being evaluated at all. Assuming that an evaluation has been carried out, it may be shown that the policy is effective or, on the contrary, that it does not enable the objectives to be achieved. Depending on the results of the evaluation, the problem that we were trying to solve can be reconsidered and, if it has not been solved perfectly, we will embark on a new cycle of public policy. If, on the other hand, the public policy is having all the desired effects, then we could very well imagine abandoning the policy.
Critique of the Public Policy Cycle Model: Strengths and Limitations[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
The public policy cycle model is often more accurately described as a cyclical or spiral process rather than a linear sequence of stages. This characterisation reflects the fact that public policy is dynamic and evolving, not static or unchanging. The implementation of a public policy may reveal new problems or aspects of the original problem that had not been properly understood or addressed. In this way, the evaluation phase can lead to a redefinition of the problem and the initiation of a new cycle of policy formulation. Similarly, the evaluation may reveal that the solution chosen was not the most effective or appropriate, leading to a revision of the solution and perhaps to legislative changes. The implementation itself may require adjustments, depending on the effectiveness of the implementation efforts and the obstacles encountered. This may require further evaluation to understand the effectiveness of these adjustments. In this way, each public policy cycle can be seen as a learning and improvement process. The policy cycle never really ends; it simply continues to evolve and adapt in response to new information, new understandings and new challenges.
The "public policy cycle" approach allows for a more detailed and in-depth analysis of each stage of the policy formulation process. For the agenda-setting stage, a number of factors can influence why certain issues receive the attention of policy-makers while others are neglected.
- Salience of the problem: Problems that are perceived as urgent or having a major impact on society are more likely to be put on the agenda. For example, an economic crisis or a major pandemic is more likely to attract the attention of political decision-makers than a long-term environmental problem.
- Pressure from interest groups and citizens: Issues that are supported by powerful interest groups or that receive a lot of attention from citizens are more likely to be put on the agenda.
- Alignment with political priorities: Issues that align with the existing political priorities of policy-makers are more likely to be put on the agenda. For example, an issue that aligns with the policy objectives of a dominant political party is more likely to be taken on board.
- Media coverage: Issues that receive a lot of media attention are more likely to be put on the agenda. The media play a key role in shaping public opinion and can influence political priorities.
- Institutional factors: In some cases, institutional or legal rules may dictate which issues are put on the agenda. For example, some jurisdictions may have formal processes for proposing and considering policy issues.
All these factors can play a part in determining which issues are put on the political agenda, and this stage of the public policy process can be an important area of study in its own right.
At the policy formulation and adoption stage, attention turns to the key actors involved in decision-making. This can include a range of actors such as politicians, political parties, interest groups, bureaucracies, and in some cases, the public when involved in direct democracy processes. It is crucial to understand the coalitions or alliances that form around certain policies, as these groups can often determine whether or not a policy is adopted. As to the question of why the state sometimes focuses on certain sectors and not at all on others, there may be several explanations:
- Political priorities: Policy-makers have specific priorities and agendas which may be influenced by a variety of factors, including their personal beliefs, their political ideology, and the expectations of their constituents. As a result, they may be more likely to focus on areas that match these priorities.
- Interest group pressure: Interest groups often have a significant influence on policy development. If interest groups lobby effectively, they can direct government attention to certain areas.
- Public problems: Government may be compelled to focus on certain sectors because of public problems that require immediate attention and action.
- Available resources: Available resources can also influence government attention. Sectors that require significant resources may be less of a priority for the state, especially in times of budgetary constraints.
- Institutional and structural factors: Some sectors may be considered to fall within the remit of the state because of institutional or structural arrangements.
The implementation stage of a public policy is a crucial phase that can determine the success or failure of the policy. During this phase, it is essential to assess the administrative mechanisms and arrangements that can facilitate effective implementation. Here are some aspects to consider:
- Available resources: Effective implementation of public policy requires adequate resources. This includes not only funding, but also qualified staff, infrastructure and technological support.
- Administrative capacity: The agencies and bodies responsible for implementation must have the administrative capacity to carry out their tasks. This includes management, organisational, coordination and monitoring skills.
- Cooperation and coordination: The implementation of public policies can often involve several bodies or departments. It is therefore essential to ensure good coordination and cooperation between them to avoid overlaps or gaps.
- Clarity of roles and responsibilities: For effective implementation, the roles and responsibilities of all the players involved must be clearly defined.
- Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms: It is also important to put in place monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track progress, identify problems and make any necessary adjustments.
- Communication and stakeholder engagement: Ensuring effective communication with all stakeholders and involving them in the process can also facilitate implementation.
Evaluation is a crucial stage in the public policy cycle. It enables the effectiveness and efficiency of policies to be judged, and can guide future decisions. The question of who should be responsible for evaluation is complex and can vary depending on the specific context, the policy area and the resources available. Here are some possible actors:
- Government bodies: Often, it is the government itself that carries out assessments, through specific ministries or agencies. These assessments may be internal or external, depending on who is carrying out the assessment.
- Independent commissions: Sometimes independent commissions are set up to evaluate public policies. These commissions may be temporary or permanent, and their main objective is to provide an impartial assessment.
- Non-governmental organisations (NGOs): NGOs can also play an important role in the evaluation of public policies, especially when social or environmental policies are involved.
- Research institutes: Research institutes or universities can also carry out evaluations, often as part of wider research projects.
- External consultants: In some cases, governments may hire external consultants to carry out evaluations. This can be useful where the government does not have the resources to carry out a full evaluation.
- Public: In some cases, the public may also be involved in the evaluation of public policies, through public consultations or surveys.
The Court of Audit is an important body for the evaluation of public policies in many countries. Its role is to audit state finances, but also to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of various policies. Its reports can provide valuable information on how public policies are working and suggest improvements. The Court of Audit can tackle a wide range of subjects. In the case of prostitution, for example, it could assess the effectiveness of policies to regulate the sector, measures to protect sex workers, and so on. On a technical subject such as the annual training voucher, the evaluation could focus on its use, its impact on the ongoing training of employees, etc. The Court of Audit's evaluations are not the only sources of information on the effectiveness of public policies. Other entities, such as research bodies, NGOs or universities, can also carry out evaluations and provide different perspectives.
The public policy cycle model offers a dynamic analytical framework for understanding how a state responds to societal problems. It divides the process into several distinct but interconnected stages: agenda-setting, policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. These different phases enable us to grasp the multiple dimensions of public policies, from political decisions to administrative actions, and their impact on problem-solving. They also make it possible to identify points of tension or challenges at each stage. However, it is important to note that this model is a simplification. In reality, these stages may overlap or be less distinct. Moreover, the political process is often less linear and more chaotic than the model suggests. Nevertheless, the model remains a valuable reference for public policy analysis. It provides a structured framework for understanding how problems are identified, how solutions are developed and implemented, and how their effectiveness is assessed. It invites ongoing reflection on improving public governance.
The public policy cycle model shares similarities with the problem-solving process used in many other fields, such as engineering or medicine. In all these fields, the process typically begins with the identification of a problem, followed by the development of potential solutions, the implementation of these solutions and finally the evaluation of their effectiveness. In the context of public policy, however, the process can be more complex due to the diversity of actors involved (which can include civil servants, politicians, pressure groups, the public, etc.) and the political nature of the decision-making process. Despite these additional complexities, the systematic approach provided by the public policy cycle model can help to organise and understand the process of creating public policy, and can contribute to the development of more effective policies for solving societal problems.
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References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]
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