By looking at the main welfare state reforms undertaken by the Italian and Spanish governments since the outbreak of the financial crisis, this article explores changes resulting from the implementation of austerity policies. In light of the way in which unpopular fiscal adjustment measures have been introduced in both countries, especially since 2010, we call for a revision of the existing literature on welfare retrenchment and political strategies. We argue in this article that under conditions of ‘permanent strain’, bold retrenchment policies and cuts in social spending have been justified by the Italian and Spanish governments through a ‘there is no alternative’ or TINA legitimation strategy, which creates limited interaction space between social and political actors. We tentatively conclude that this political strategy does not entirely fit the notions of blame avoidance or credit claiming as currently formulated in the specialist literature. We call for further empirical testing of the arguments made in this paper.
- political strategies
- welfare reform