Balancing Competing Demands: Position-Taking and Election Proximity in the European Parliament

Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 37-70

42 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2009 Last revised: 20 Feb 2012

See all articles by René Lindstädt

René Lindstädt

Jonathan Slapin

University of Houston

Ryan J. Vander Wielen

Temple University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 6, 2010

Abstract

Parties value unity, yet, members of parliament face competing demands, giving them incentives to deviate from the party line. For members of the European Parliament (MEPs), these competing demands are national party and European party group pressures. Here, we look at how MEPs respond to those competing demands. We examine ideological shifts within a single parliamentary term to assess how European Parliament (EP) election proximity affects party group cohesion. Our formal model of legislative behavior with multiple principals suggests that when EP elections are proximate, national party delegations shift toward national party positions, thus weakening EP party group cohesion. For our empirical test, we analyze roll call data from the 5th EP (1999-2004) using Bayesian item-response models. We find significant movement among national party delegations as EP elections approach, which is consistent with our theoretical model, but surprising given the existing literature on EP elections as second-order contests.

Keywords: Legislative Politics, Comparative Politics, Comparative Legislatures, European Parliament, Parties, Political Methodology, Formal Theory, Political Economy, Bayesian IRT

JEL Classification: C11, C15, C72, D72

Suggested Citation

Lindstaedt, Rene and Slapin, Jonathan and Vander Wielen, Ryan J., Balancing Competing Demands: Position-Taking and Election Proximity in the European Parliament (February 6, 2010). Legislative Studies Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 37-70. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1441899 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1441899

Jonathan Slapin

University of Houston ( email )

4800 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204
United States

Ryan J. Vander Wielen

Temple University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

No contact information is available for Rene Lindstaedt

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