Auel, Katrin (2009) ‘Servants of the People’ or ‘Masters of the Government’? Explaining Parliamentary Behaviour in EU Affairs. In: UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
Comparative studies using a rational choice approach have successfully explained variation in the degree of institutional parliamentary strength in EU affairs, but they perform less well with regard to explaining both actual parliamentary behaviour and variation thereof. The paper therefore develops an explanation for parliamentary behaviour based on agency theory and the model of delegation. The aim is to enrich rational choice approaches, which have so far focused mainly on the preference of re-election and have therefore - at least implicitly - conceptualised parliamentarians as agents of their voters or parties. In parliamentary systems, however, MPs are not only agents of the voters (or parties), but also principals of the government. The paper is based on Strøm’s rational choice institutionalist conception of parliamentary roles as ‘routines, driven by reasons (preferences), and constrained by rules’ (Strøm 1997: 158), but uses Merton’s concept of ‘role-sets’ (Merton 1957) to analyse parliamentary agent- and principal-relationships as different elements of the role-set ‘MP’ associated with specific routines driven by specific preferences.
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