The Dutch decentralisations. A search for the interest, roles and influence of relevant actors

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Since 1 January 2015 Dutch municipalities have become responsible for tasks arising out of the new Youth Care Act (Jeugdwet), the Social Support Act (Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning, Wmo 2015), and Participation Law (Participatie wet). This decentralisation in the social domain can be understood as one of the most important developments in Dutch domestic governance in the last century. The Netherlands is well-known for its consensus-based society, which refers to the achievement of wide agreement in important political issues. During the establishment of a new policy a broad platform of support is required among all parties that are affected by the new policy. According to the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) of Paul Sabatier (1991) the policy-making process, in terms of agenda-setting and other phases, is dominated by elite opinion. In contrast, the policy cycle-actor hourglass approach of Howlett, Ramesh and Perl (2009) states that the policy universe is involved in agenda setting, and is based on the public opinion. In short, the ACF emphasizes the role of elite actors while the hourglass approach highlights how broad-based public opinion drives policy change. The Dutch decentralisation is a very topical issue, showing the need for scientific research on the establishment of this new public policy. This research could contribute to the implementation and evaluation of the decentralisations. This thesis enters the debate about the causes of policy change by asking how the interests, roles and influences of relevant actors explain the decentralisation of Youth Care Act and the Wmo 2015 in the Netherlands. The information that is used in the thesis, derives from official documents of parliament, for example meeting reports, but also, position papers, reactions on government formation, and research reports. The main conclusion of the thesis is that the advocacy coalition framework gives a better explanation how the interest, roles, and influences explain the decentralisation than the policy cycle-actor hourglass. Besides, the external environment played a tremendous role in this. Overall, in the entire policy-making process mainly a few actors are involved, deriving from the government, and umbrella organisation. This means that the decentralisation of the health care system in the Netherlands is less concerned with the public opinion.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen