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

  • Heike Klüver and Toni Rodon
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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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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2 Gabel and Hix, ‘Defining the EU Political Space: An Empirical Study of the European Elections Manifestos, 1979–1999’, p. 936.

3 Hix and Lord, Political Parties in the European Union, p. 63

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25 McElroy and Benoit, ‘Party Policy and Group Affiliation in the European Parliament’.

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27 McElroy and Benoit, ‘Party Policy and Group Affiliation in the European Parliament’, p. 380.

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29 Gabel and Hix, ‘Defining the EU Political Space’, p. 937.

30 Gabel and Hix, ‘Defining the EU Political Space’, p. 937.

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37 Warwick and Druckman, ‘The Portfolio Allocation Paradox’, p. 636.

38 Fiona Hayes-Renshaw and Helen Wallace, The Council of Ministers, 2nd edn (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

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39 It has to be noted that this formula does not constitute the basis for the calculation of the policy positions of Europarties; it simply summarizes our theoretical model, according to which the policy position of a Europarty PEUR can be explained by the policy preferences of its J national member parties PNATj weighted by their legislative resources αj. The policy positions of Europarties are measured independently on the basis of a content analysis of their election manifestos, as outlined in detail in the next section.

40 Wüst, Andreas M. and Volkens, Andrea, ‘Euromanifesto Coding Instructions’, Mannheimer Zentrum für europäische Sozialforschung Working Paper, 64 (2003)

Daniela Braun, Maike Salzwedel, Christian Stumpf and Andreas M. Wüst, Euromanifesto Documentation (Mannheim Centre for European Social Research, 2004)

41 Laver, Michael and Garry, John, ‘Estimating Policy Positions from Political Texts’, American Journal of Political Science, 44 (2000), 619–34

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Laver, MichaelBenoit, Kenneth and Garry, John, ‘Extracting Policy Positions from Political Texts Using Word as Data’, American Political Science Review, 97 (2003), 311–31

Klingemann, Hans-Dieter, Volkens, Andrea, Bara, JudithBudge, Ian and McDonald, Michael, Mapping Policy Preferences II: Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments in Eastern Europe, European Union and OECD 1990–2003 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)

42 Budge et al., Mapping Policy Preferences; Klingemann et al., Mapping Policy Preferences II.

43 Wüst and Volkens, Euromanifesto Coding Instructions, p. 4.

44 We hereby draw on the RILE scale developed by Andreas Wüst and the pro-anti European integration dimension computed by the Euromanifesto project. Braun et al., Euromanifesto Documentation.

45 Benoit, Kenneth and Laver, Michael, ‘Benchmarks for Text Analysis: A Reply to Budge and Pennings’, Electoral Studies, 26 (2007), 130–35

Steembergen, Marco R. and Marks, Gary, ‘Evaluating Expert Judgements’, European Journal of Political Research, 46 (2007), 347–66

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46 Benoit, Kenneth and Laver, Michael, ‘Estimating Party Policy Positions: Comparing Expert Surveys and Hand Coded Content Analysis’, Electoral Studies, 26 (2007), 90–107

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47 Steenbergen and Marks, ‘Evaluating Expert Judgements’; Hooghe et al., ‘Reliability and Validity of Measuring Party Positions’. We thank the anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.

48 Hix, ‘The Transnational Party Federations’; Hix and Lord, Political Parties in the European Union, pp. 29–39

49 Tsebelis, George and Garrett, Geoffrey, ‘Legislative Politics in the European Union’, European Union Politics, 1 (2000), 9–36

50 Hix and Lord, Political Parties in the European Union; McElroy and Benoit, ‘Party Groups and Policy Positions in the European Parliament’.

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54 In 1979 and 1984 a set of questions was added to the regular Eurobarometer that was conducted in the aftermath of the EP elections. These questions were later included in the European Election Studies. The EES data is publicly available at the EES website (www.ees-homepage.net/) and the Eurobarometer data can be accessed on the GESIS website (www.zacat.gesis.org).

55 More precisely, the question is worded as follows: ‘Some say European unification should be pushed further. Others say it has already gone too far. What is your opinion? Please indicate your views using a 10-point-scale. On this scale, 1 means unification ‘has already gone too far’ and 10 means it ‘should be pushed further’. What number on this scale best describes your position?’.

56 One could argue that party proximity could also be a good measure to identify the potential electorate. However, the same citizen can be close to different parties, so it is therefore not clear how multiple party identifications affect vote choice. At the same time, the level of response is lower, thus decreasing the number of respondents, especially for small parties.

57 Enelow, James M. and Hinich, Melvin, The Spatial Theory of Voting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984)

58 Data for the European elections stems from the EP (www.europarl.europa.eu). The national turnout for each country and year is gathered from the International IDEA website (www.idea.int/vt/).

59 Van der Eijk and Franklin, Choosing Europe? The European Electorate and National Politics in the Face of Union.

60 Hix and Marsh, ‘Punishment or Protest?’.

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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.

68 Rasmussen, Anne, ‘Party Soldiers in a Non-partisan Community? Party linkage in the European Parliament’, Journal of European Public Policy, 15 (2008), 1164–83

69 Tallberg, Jonas, ‘The Agenda-Shaping Powers of the EU Council Presidency’, Journal of European Public Policy, 10 (2003), 1–19

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

* University of Konstanz (email: ) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra (email: ), 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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