The Right(s) and Minimum Income Schemes: Southern and Eastern Europe Compared

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Anatomy - Large LT (University of Glasgow)
Ilaria Madama , Department of Social and Political Studies, University of Milan
Matteo Jessoula , Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan
Manos Matsaganis , Dipartimento architettura e studi urbani, Politecnico di Milano
Marcello Natili , Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, Italy
Southern and Eastern European countries have traditionally displayed above EU-average poverty rates which in most cases have further increased as an effect of both the Great Recession and EU-driven austerity measures. Recent research, however, highlighted that national responses to “the Crisis” were substantially shaped by domestic policy institutions and especially political dynamics. Against such backdrop, the paper analyzes the social assistance and minimum income reforms promoted by center-right governments in two Southern – Italy and Portugal – and two Eastern European countries – Poland and Latvia.

It argues that right-parties display substantially different positions in the field of anti-poverty measures thus pursuing significantly different reform strategies. These have to be understood in light of the diverse types of right-wing parties and varying competition dynamics - among right-wing parties themselves or along the traditional left-right divide -  in the four countries. The aim of the paper is thus twofold: on the one hand, it contributes shedding light on the welfare preferences of right-wing parties in a key social policy sector; on the other hand, it shows how “bringing right parties in” improves understanding of the politics of minimum income schemes.