Both proponents and critics of the regulatory state thesis view the creation of non-majoritarian institutions, such as independent regulatory agencies, as a process of ‘depoliticisation‘. This article problematises this assumption by proposing an analytical framework for better understanding the link between politicisation, depoliticisation, and the delegation of powers to non-majoritarian institutions, based on a study of drug rationing policies in England and France. A greater delegation of decision-making powers to a regulator enables policy decisions that are likely to prove politically costly, but such decisions are also likely to attract greater countermobilisation, undermining policy stability over time. By contrast, in a less delegated setting, elected politicians can prevent unpopular policy choices from being taken, which contributes to policy continuity. The article further argues that, where decision-making powers are highly delegated, the regulator’s autonomy and the visibility of losses imposed by policy decisions condition the politicisation process. These findings suggest that, far from depoliticising policy problems, delegated policymaking insulated from politics can undermine itself by becoming a source of subsequent politicisation; they thus question the prevailing notion that delegation to non-majoritarian institutions contributes to policy stability.
Read more here.