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Political Science in Europe

The Influence of Religiosity and Political Parties on Drug Policy Reform. An Event History Analysis of Reforms in nearly 20 advanced Industrial Democracies

Policy Analysis
Party Systems
Policy Implementation
Maximilian Wieczoreck
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Maximilian Wieczoreck
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Drug policy is commonly characterized as a value-based policy that touches upon a moral conflict and, compared to non-moral issues, eludes political compromise. In particular, the regulation of cannabis has attracted considerable attention in recent years, as beginning with the 1990s a new wave of countries depenalized or decriminalized the possession of cannabis for personal consumption. Although previous comparative research has provided interesting insights into the dynamics surrounding reforms of different morality policies, a systematic statistical test of the underlying factors favoring permissive reforms of cannabis possession is still missing. By drawing on data from the International Narcotics Control Board and the World Value Survey, this study uses event history analysis to fill this gap. Based on a dataset including nearly 20 advanced industrial democracies the influence of religiosity and political parties on drug policy reforms is tested for the period between 1995 and 2015. By focusing on drug policy this study presents a hard test for the influence of religiosity and political parties in a context of secularization, because - as a latent morality policy - drug policy-making has become increasingly subject to rational-instrumental considerations. Overall, it is expected that the influence of religiosity has diminished, whereas political parties and partisan competition significantly influence the likelihood of implementing permissive policy reforms. In line with previous research, it is expected that a conflict between secular and religious parties leads also within drug policy to a higher probability of permissive reforms. Moreover, it is assumed that non-secular cleavages within a party system such as left-right or libertarian-authoritarian also matter for the likelihood of permissive reforms.
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