Mapping the Changing Role of Expertise in COVID-19 Politics in Europe

Kennet Lynggaard, Theofanis Exadaktylos, Mads Dagnis Jensen, Michael Kluth

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


During major national crises countries experience a ‘rally round the flag’ effect, where citizens, societal groups and politicians put aside mundane conflicts to stand united against a common threat. This shift to depoliticised policymaking was indeed observed in many European countries during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 onwards. Subsequently it noted how politics involving COVID-19 were then (re)politicised, typically when lockdowns were lifted. This article sets out to explore the role of expertise in shaping policy responses during politicised/depoliticised processes. It offers a new typology, classifying four different ideal types of roles for experts as leading, antagonistic, managerial, and auxiliary. Using survey data from political science experts across 31 European countries it analyses knowledge exchanges at different stages throughout the pandemic, and finds a shift from normal policymaking conditions to conditions of politicisation/depoliticisation triggered by the pandemic. The findings demonstrate that the role of experts oscillates depending on the issue at hand and the way that either political actors utilise expertise to legitimise decisions or experts themselves turn into political actors within politicised decision environments. During the pandemic, a dramatic shift of the expert’s role occurred where even in countries whose experts previously had an auxiliary role, leading policy decisions became the norm.
TidsskriftPolicy and Politics
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)44–66
Antal sider23
StatusUdgivet - 8 jan. 2024

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 08 January 2024.


  • Politicisation
  • Depoliticisation
  • Policymaking
  • Experts
  • Expertise
  • Decision-making
  • Advocacy coalition framework
  • COVID-19