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

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  • Isaksson, Karolina
  • Richardson, Tim

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Isaksson, Karolina & Richardson, Tim, 2009. "Building legitimacy for risky policies: The cost of avoiding conflict in Stockholm," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 251-257, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:43:y:2009:i:3:p:251-257
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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, 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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hultkrantz, Lars & Liu, Xing, 2012. "Green cars sterilize congestion charges: A model analysis of the reduced impact of Stockholm road tolls," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 110-118.
    2. Ardıç, Özgül & Annema, Jan Anne & van Wee, Bert, 2015. "The reciprocal relationship between policy debate and media coverage: The case of road pricing policy in the Netherlands," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 384-399.
    3. Hysing, Erik, 2015. "Citizen participation or representative government – Building legitimacy for the Gothenburg congestion tax," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 1-8.
    4. Eliasson, Jonas & Jonsson, Lina, 2011. "The unexpected "yes": Explanatory factors behind the positive attitudes to congestion charges in Stockholm," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 636-647, August.
    5. Sørensen, Claus Hedegaard & Isaksson, Karolina & Macmillen, James & Åkerman, Jonas & Kressler, Florian, 2014. "Strategies to manage barriers in policy formation and implementation of road pricing packages," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 40-52.
    6. Börjesson, Maria & Eliasson, Jonas & Hugosson, Muriel & Brundell-Freij, Karin, 2012. "The Stockholm congestion charges – five years on. Effects, acceptability and lessons learnt," Working papers in Transport Economics 2012:3, CTS - Centre for Transport Studies Stockholm (KTH and VTI).
    7. Hansla, André & Hysing, Erik & Nilsson, Andreas & Martinsson, Johan, 2017. "Explaining voting behavior in the Gothenburg congestion tax referendum," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 98-106.
    8. Vonk Noordegraaf, Diana & Annema, Jan Anne & van Wee, Bert, 2014. "Policy implementation lessons from six road pricing cases," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 172-191.
    9. Cools, Mario & Brijs, Kris & Tormans, Hans & Moons, Elke & Janssens, Davy & Wets, Geert, 2011. "The socio-cognitive links between road pricing acceptability and changes in travel-behavior," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 779-788, October.
    10. Schuitema, Geertje & Steg, Linda & Forward, Sonja, 2010. "Explaining differences in acceptability before and acceptance after the implementation of a congestion charge in Stockholm," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 99-109, February.
    11. Hrelja, Robert & Isaksson, Karolina & Richardson, Tim, 2013. "Choosing conflict on the road to sustainable mobility: A risky strategy for breaking path dependency in urban policy making," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 195-205.
    12. Börjesson, Maria & Eliasson, Jonas & Hugosson, Muriel B. & Brundell-Freij, Karin, 2012. "The Stockholm congestion charges—5 years on. Effects, acceptability and lessons learnt," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 1-12.
    13. Marsden, G. & Frick, K.T. & May, A.D. & Deakin, E., 2011. "How do cities approach policy innovation and policy learning? A study of 30 policies in Northern Europe and North America," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 501-512, May.
    14. Kallbekken, Steffen & Aasen, Marianne, 2010. "The demand for earmarking: Results from a focus group study," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2183-2190, September.

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