Saturday 24 January 2009

Fragment article: The role party politics in the European Union

Remark: I have started to write this article over a month ago and for some reasons never finished it. But I wanted to publish this as a fragment, at least.

I have promised some time ago to provide you with a number of interesting insights coming from the Journal of European Public Policy, Number 15, Issue 8 (December 2008) which is dedicated to European party politics.

Not all of the articles have proved interesting or providing results that are worth mentioning. I had hoped that this issue would be a bit more fruitful, but especially regarding the amount of empirical (= real-life) findings is quite limited.

The first article,"Party politics as usual? The role of political parties in EU legislative decision-making" by Björn Lindberg, Anne Rasmussen and Andreas Warntjen concludes that there are some hints that transnational European parties play a role in the European Parliament, but that is quite early to conclude on their true importance.

Some relevant quotes from this text:
  • "[B]oth the EPP-ED and the Party of European Socialists (PES) group appoint rapporteurs with policy preferences close to the median position of their party groups" (p. 1117).
  • "[S]tudies of voting defection indicate that when there is a conflict of opinion between the national party delegations and their EP party groups, MEPs tend to follow their national parties. Recent studies have also looked at the conditions under which MEPs follow the view of their national parties. An important conclusion from this work is that national electoral systems play a role. [...] if MEPs are elected under institutions that enable parties to exert a strong control over their appointment (such as closed lists, small district magnitudes and centralized candidate selection), their tendency to follow their national parties is stronger" (p. 1118)
  • "In cases in which the EP rapporteur and the Council Presidency belong to the same party family, the chance of concluding early in the legislative process is increased" (p. 1120).
The sixth article, "Parties in the Council?" by Sara Hagemann and Björn Hoyland reports the following findings which are based on governments' votes on 1,477 legislative acts:
"[T]here is a clear, although weak, tendency of ideological coalition formation in the Council. Centre-left governments are, on average, more likely to vote together with other centreleft governments than with governments from the centre-right. Furthermore, when a new government enters the Council, it often finds that its closest coalition partners are not those of the previous government’s if the government change also meant a change in party political platform" (p. 1206).
End of fragment.