No Flexicurity without trade unions: The Danish experience

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The literature of comparative political economy considers the Danish “Flexicurity” model the egalitarian variety of contemporary capitalism. This article, however, contests this common assessment by tracing the gradual policy changes that led to an erosion of its security-related components. Comparing the rise and erosion of the Danish “Flexicurity” model, it argues that the explanation for this reform trajectory lies in the exclusion of the labour movement from the policy-making process. Danish minority governments gained little by involving unions, because they were no longer reliant on an extra-parliamentary channel of consensus mobilisation. Flexible majority-building in the parliamentary arena allowed them to seek their preferred policy output independent from union consent. The onset of the Great Recession therefore allowed governments of the right as well as the left to dismiss the one single actor that mobilised political support for workers at risk of unemployment. Without the involvement of organised labour, the concept of “Flexicurity” cannot live up to its promise of mitigating economic uncertainty on a volatile labour market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number1
Early online date2 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Flexicurity
  • Denmark
  • labour market policy
  • trade unions
  • government
  • social security


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