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POLITICAL STRATEGIES FOR POLICY REFORM 197


sufficiently high, a widely accepted policy solution needs to be available, and the political situation needs to be conducive to the change. In case of fertil- izer reform, a fiscal crisis, a crisis in the farm sector, and impending trade liberalization applied sufficient problem pressure on stakeholders to act in 1999/2000, but in the absence of a clearly accepted vision for an alternative policy, the finance minister was unable to change policy. In fact, an accepted alternative policy still needs to be developed. Research and knowledge-build- ing are essential to develop such alternatives and to create more support for alternatives through deliberation (see below).


In the case of electricity, the tariff increase in Andhra Pradesh in 2000 is an example of reform being pursued even though only one of Kindgon’s three conditions was met. Because Naidu won the elections on a proreform platform, the political conditions were suitable for reform efforts. However, fiscal stress—the problem that this reform measure was intended to address— was not what farmers perceived to be the major problem. Rather, it was their declining income, aggravated by the drought. Moreover, the proposed policy solution—tariff increases without any link to quality improvements—was not very convincing, for obvious reasons.


Trying to reach a consensus on a possible policy solution may allow win- dows of opportunity to be used more effectively when the other conditions (problem pressure and favorable political situation) are met. To identify the appropriate timing for reducing agricultural subsidies, it might be useful to study cases where such subsidies were, in fact, reduced or abolished.


Options for Future Reform Approaches Building New Coalitions


Building new coalitions of interest groups can help overcome the political chal- lenges of policy reform. The PMGER in Andhra Pradesh is an interesting example of a new coalition that brings together farmers, farm laborers, electricity-sector employees, and environmental groups. Its success indicates that new coalitions are easier to form among groups that share the same paradigm, even if they dif- fer in their material interests. Proponents of a reform that focuses on increases in fertilizer prices or agricultural tariffs have apparently not been successful in forming a coalition with environmental groups, perhaps because of differences in core beliefs. Research may be helpful for creating new coalitions by making potential interest groups aware of the ways in which they are affected by the current situation and how they would be affected by a proposed policy change (see the section “Use of Research-Based Knowledge to Promote Policy-Oriented Learning across Discourse Coalitions”).


More awareness of the distribution of the costs and benefits associated with the current policies and with alternative policy options and packages


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