Abstract: Data on people's attitudes to items on the public budgets are found in the International Social Science Programme (ISSP) Role of Government surveys and Danish national election surveys 1990–1998. These data are factor analysed to validate a three-way agenda that postulates three main goals or functions of the state: the authoritarian state, the welfare state, and the humanitarian state. The factor solution is very similar in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the four largest European Union (EU) countries, and on many points consistent with theories of value change and new politics.
Based on the factor analysis, the support for each of the three agendas is analysed for voters of different parties in the three Scandinavian party systems. We find that all three systems are structured in at least two dimensions, the welfare dimension and the humanitarian vs. authoritarian dimension. These data therefore point to the existence of a ‘new politics’ dimension that is similar in the three party systems insofar as it contains the same five budget items. However, the opinion climate differs somewhat between the three countries. The support for the humanitarian agenda is lowest in Norway, whereas the support for the authoritarian agenda is highest in Denmark.