Technocracy and Democracy. An Approach on Governmental Discourse Analysis in Spain (2000 - 2019)

Dr. Bernabé Aldeguer-Cerdá
Mr. Pedro Abellán Artacho

This paper addresses the general perception that the Financial Crisis led to the preeminence of a technocratic approach in public management. Accordingly, political actors would justify their actions and proposals on economic grounds, conceived as an independent variable, subduing the Welfare State and democratic principles to efficiency and macroeconomic stability. In order to show if this change actually happened in public discourse and how these arguments were presented, a qualitative content analysis (Mayring, Schreier) is applied on governmental discourses. The sample under analysis includes a selection of the addresses of the Spanish government to the press after the Council of Ministers between 2000-2008 (a period of economic growth), between 2009-2013 (economic crisis) and between 2014-2019 (economic growth) to show if the Financial Crisis introduced a change in governmental discourse. The different themes these press conferences dealt with are taken into account as a control variable. The coding frame includes these themes, as well as the different dimensions of a democratic and a technocratic discourse, which are developed following a mixed strategy (both theory and data oriented). Theoretically we depart from a plural conception of democracy (with a liberal/representative core supplemented by social and participatory/deliberative dimensions) (Kriesi) and a conception of technocracy that includes: 1) a technical orientation of the elites’ ideology reflected in their words, actions an composition; 2) the insistence in emergency and immediacy; 3) a context of social depoliticization and a crisis of political confidence; 4) advance of economic and regulatory specialization that leads to 5) an increased value of information and knowledge as a resource for power; 6) a change in the direction of political blaming; 7) a change in metaphorical language. This way, the research intends to contribute to the better understanding of public discourse as signifying practices that both limit and enable political action.