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Explaining Policy Position Choice of Europarties: The Effect of Legislative Resources

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 October 2012

Abstract

While Europarties have received increasing attention in recent years, little is known about how they arrive at common policy positions, given their strong internal ideological heterogeneity. In order to explain position formation within Europarties, this article argues that national parties compete with each other in an attempt to upload their own policy positions to their Europarty. The article hypothesizes that their ability to succeed in these attempts depends on their legislative resources. The argument is tested by analysing position formation within the four major Europarties for all European Parliament elections between 1979 and 2004. The empirical results confirm that position choice is skewed towards parties with a large seat share, which has important implications for political representation in Europe.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012 

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Footnotes

*

University of Konstanz (email: heike.kluever@uni-konstanz.de) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra (email: toni.rodon@upf.edu), respectively. The authors are listed in alphabetical order. Both authors have contributed equally to the article. They thank Hanna Bäck, Thomas Däubler, Lisa Dellmuth, Fabio Franchino, Nathalie Giger, Javier Arregui, Iñaki Sagarzazu, Jae-Jae Spoon and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch as well as the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions. Replication data are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123412000543.

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66 Potentially, it is also possible that there is a reciprocal relationship between policy positions of Europarties and those of national parties. In addition to the suggested bottom-up relationship in which national parties influence policy position choice of Europarties, one could also advocate a top-down relationship in which Europarties could shape position formation of their national party members. We therefore conducted a Granger causality test in order to shed light on the direction of the relationship. This test indicated that the Europarties’ policy positions do not ‘Granger-cause’ the national parties’ policy positions (F = 0.104, Prob > F = 0.747). Conversely, national parties’ policy positions do ‘Granger-cause’ Europarties’ policy positions (F = 17.26, Prob > F = 0.000).

67 To further test the robustness of the results, we also estimated OLS regression models with fixed effects for elections and Europarties to control for election-specific and Europarty-specifc explanatory factors. These additional model specifications similarly confirmed our findings. In addition, we also tested whether preference formation in the run-up to the 2004 EP election followed a different pattern due to the Eastern enlargement by including a fixed effect for the 2004 election. The analysis indicated that there is no systematic difference between the 2004 election and previous elections with regard to policy position choice within Europarties.

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70 Hayes-Renshaw and Wallace, The Council of Ministers, p. 252.

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