Welfare Rescaling in Italy and Spain: Political Strategies to Deal with Harsh Austerity

Margarita León, Emmanuele Pavolini, Ana M. Guillén

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-201
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Security
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • austerity
  • Italy
  • political strategies
  • retrenchment
  • Spain
  • welfare reform


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