Ideology or National Interest? External Relations Votes in the European Parliament
The Amsterdam Centre for Contemporary European Studies Research Paper No. 2017/01
ACCESS EUROPE Research Paper No. 2017/01
32 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 19, 2017
Studies of roll-call votes in the European Parliament show that most party groups are very cohesive, the left-right dimension is the dominant cleavage in the chamber, and that most votes are adopted with broad majorities. This paper asks whether these findings extend to external relations, issue areas characterized by intergovernmentalism and entrenched national interests. The ‘politics stops at the water’s edge’ idiom suggests that national interests trump party politics. In contrast, recent studies of politicization in international relations find evidence for party political cleavages as regards external relations. Examining the positions of party groups and national delegations throughout the 1979-2014 period, the paper compares voting behaviour in external relations with overall patterns of party unity and coalitions whilst also differentiating between various types of foreign and security policy matters.
Keywords: External relations, European Parliament, voting, party groups, cohesion, coalitions
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