Publication Alert

What causes politicians to endorse or oppose the curtailing of civil liberties in the fight against terrorism? Read our paper "Contesting counter-terrorism: discourse networks and the politicisation of counter-terrorism in Austria" in @JIRD_jour

Contesting counter-terrorism: discourse networks and the politicisation of counter-terrorism in Austria
Why do political actors prefer one counter-terrorism policy over another? We apply discourse network analysis and the advocacy coalition framework to the recent debate on counter-terrorism measures in Austria and argue that actors’ positions are based not so much on objective security factors and in…

Argument: We argue that Counter-terrorism legislation is not the outcome of an objective analysis of externally induced threats and responses to these threats, but the product of three interdependent variables:

(a) a sense of ownership by those responsible for fighting terrorism; (b) a green/alternative/libertarian (GAL) vs. traditional/authoritarian/nationalist (TAN) orientation; and (c) the anticipated political gains by party leaders of supporting/opposing certain legislation.

Design: For this exploratory study, we use the case of the Austrian debate on the implementation of several surveillance and other counter-terrorism measures and apply Sabatier's Advocacy Coalition Framework, and @PhilipLeifeld Discourse Network Analysis to answer our RQ.

Results: The failure to pass a new law on data retention (#Vorratsdatenspeicherung) in Austria was caused by the ideological orientation, the lack of ownership, and the anticipated political gains/losses of critics, and not by an informed discussion of objective threats and need.

Take away: Politics does not stop at the "water’s edge" when it comes to counter-terrorism. This policy field is highly politicised and contested. The adoption of (or the failure to pass) counter-terrorism legislation is a function of ownership, ideology and political gains.

Thanks to everyone who supported us with their valuable comments, esp. @JIRD_jour reviewers, @ECPR general conference discussants, David Rowe (@KenyonCSAD) and Alan Draper (@StLawrenceU), our colleagues at @PolSciUIBK, and @uniinnsbruck and @unserlandtirol for funding our project.