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
Date Written: February 6, 2010
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: Suggested Citation