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Individuals Matter: Exploring Strategies of Individuals to Change the Water Policy for the Tisza River in Hungary

Saskia E. Werners
Piotr Matczak
Zsuzsanna Flachner


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This paper offers a novel interpretation of the introduction of floodplain rehabilitation and rural development into the water policy for the Tisza River in Hungary. It looks at the role of individuals and the strategies that they used to bring about water policy change. Five strategies are explored: developing new ideas, building coalitions to sell ideas, using windows of opportunity, playing multiple venues and orchestrating networks. Our discussion on the importance of each strategy and the individuals behind it is based on interviews, group discussions and a literature review. The international and political attention sparked by a series of floods, dike failure and a major cyanide spill, which preceded national elections, opened a window of opportunity for launching ideas. A new regional coalition successfully introduced floodplain rehabilitation into the water policy arena. Our analysis emphasizes the importance of a responsible civil servant who recognizes a new policy idea at an abstract level and a credible regional coalition that advocates the new idea regionally.

Key words

coalition; individual actor; Hungary; Tisza River; transition; water policy change
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087