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Heinkelmann‐Wild, Tim and Zangl, Bernhard (2020): Multilevel blame games: Blame‐shifting in the European Union. In: Governance, Vol. 33, No. 4: pp. 953-969 [PDF, 1MB]


Who blames whom in multilevel blame games? Existing research focuses either on policymakers' preferences or their opportunities offered by the institutional structures in which policymakers operate. As these two strands of literature barely refer to each other, in this article we develop an integrated theoretical model of blame‐shifting in multilevel governance systems and assess it empirically. In line with the first strand, we assume that policymakers have a preference for shifting blame onto actors on a different level from themselves. In line with the second, we suppose that opportunities for doing so depend on institutional responsibility for policymaking and policy implementation. We check the plausibility of our integrated model by examining policymakers' blame attributions in three cases where European Union migration policies have been contested: border control, asylum, and welfare entitlements. We find that our integrated model does better in explaining blame‐shifting in these cases than the isolated models.

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