Understanding the Political Preferences of Seniors’ Organizations. The Swiss Case.



Abstract: According to numerous politicians, reforming the welfare state in aging societies has become increasingly necessary in spite of the growing influence of advocacy groups that have made reforms more difficult to realize. Studying the preferences of seniors’ organizations is therefore crucial to comprehending future welfare state policies. In this paper, I will examine recurrent variables that researchers working on seniors’ organizations study in order to explain the type of framing or political discourse that these organizations use. Using FARES/VASOS, the largest seniors’ organization in Switzerland, as a case study, I will show how common explanations (especially the ones that refer to the importance of the context or of the political opportunities structure), if they work, can also be seen as too incomplete or limited. We will see that focusing on how leaders are selected, their activism, and their reasons for involvement provides interesting data to help us understand the goals and political battles of this organization.