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Building legitimacy for risky policies: The cost of avoiding conflict in Stockholm

  • Isaksson, Karolina
  • Richardson, Tim
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    The controversial nature of urban congestion charging policies makes them politically risky. Urban planners, policy makers and politicians are forced to consider how they can legitimately introduce a policy that the public may not want. Implementation in London, and failure in Edinburgh, raise questions about whether they should seek full citizen support, or work strategically towards implementation in the face of public opposition. This paper reports on an investigation of the Stockholm congestion charging trial (SCCT). It analyses the strategy developed by the city authorities to create legitimacy for the implementation of the SCCT. The SCCT is examined in two steps, firstly how the 'trial + referendum' approach was successful in securing public acceptance, and secondly how key aspects of the design of the trial and the subsequent referendum were adjusted in response to emerging risks, demonstrating the pragmatic approach of the city leaders managing the policy process. The study suggests that the city leaders chose a clearly pragmatic approach, grounded in compromise, yet subtly designed to avoid openly confronting the status quo. The strategy was continuously adapted and adjusted, in the face of emerging risks, and clearly served to create consensus while avoiding difficult questions of urban mobility.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.

    Volume (Year): 43 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 (March)
    Pages: 251-257

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:43:y:2009:i:3:p:251-257
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    1. Ingemar Ahlstrand, 2001. "The Politics and Economics of Transport Investment and Pricing in Stockholm," Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, London School of Economics and University of Bath, vol. 35(3), pages 473-489, September.
    2. McQuaid, Ronald & Grieco, Margaret, 2005. "Edinburgh and the politics of congestion charging: Negotiating road user charging with affected publics," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 475-476, September.
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