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Opponents and supporters of water policy change in the Netherlands and Hungary

Saskia E. Werners
Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands; saskia.werners@wur.nl
Jeroen Warner
Wageningen University and Research Centre; Twente University, the Netherlands; jeroen.warner@wur.nl
Dik Roth
Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands; dik.roth@wur.nl

ABSTRACT: This paper looks at the role of individuals and the strategies that they use to bring about or oppose major policy change. Current analysis of the role that individuals or small collectives play in periods of major policy change has focussed on strategies that reinforce change and on the supporters of change. This paper adds the perspective of opponents, and asks whether they use similar strategies as those identified for supporters. Five strategies are explored: developing new ideas, building coalitions to sell ideas, using windows of opportunity, playing multiple venues and orchestrating networks. Using empirical evidence from Dutch and Hungarian water policy change, we discuss whether individuals pursued these strategies to support or oppose major policy change. Our analysis showed the significance of recognition of a new policy concept at an abstract level by responsible government actors, as well as their engagement with a credible regional coalition that can contextualise and advocate the concept regionally. The strategies of supporters were also used by opponents of water policy change. Opposition was inherent to policy change, and whether or not government actors sought to engage with opponents influenced the realisation of water policy change.