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Divided government European-style? Electoral and mechanical causes of European Parliament and Council divisions

Manow, Philip, and Doring, Holger. (2007) Divided government European-style? Electoral and mechanical causes of European Parliament and Council divisions. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    Abstract

    [From the introduction]. As we will argue in the following sections, in order to understand the political dynamics of ‘divided government’ in the political system of the EU it is of crucial importance to distinguish between its mechanical and electoral causes and to take into account the two salient dimensions of European politics: the left/right dimension and the European integration versus national sovereignty dimension (Hix 1999; Hooghe, Marks, and Wilson 2002). As we will show below, the mechanical cause of divided government in the EU leads to systematic differences in the pro-/contra-EU dimension between Council and Parliament – due to the lower probability that more extreme, i.e. more EU-skeptic, parties are represented in national governments and therefore in the Council. The consequences of the electoral cause of divided government are less clear-cut. First of all, it remains an empirical question whether the second order status of European elections actually does lead to divided government ‘the European way’. Much depends on the composition of EU member state governments. Secondly, without further analysis we cannot say for certain whether voting behavior in EP elections reflects voters’ choices in the traditional left/right or in the pro-/contra-EU dimension. The paper proceeds in three stages. In the following section (Section 2) we first highlight the importance of diverging majorities for inter-institutional politics and policy-making within the EU. We then subsequently detail (Section 3) how the logic of national government formation translates into a pro-EU bias of the European Council. We also briefly summarize the literature on the second order status of elections to the European Parliament and outline its expected effect on the party-political composition of EP and Council. In Section 4 we empirically compare the spatial location of Council and Parliament in the two salient dimensions of European politics, in the European integration vs. national sovereignty dimension and the traditional left/right dimension. We conclude (Section 5) by emphasizing the implications of our findings for future research on European elections, for the debate on Europe’s democratic deficit and on interinstitutional politics within the EU.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > europeanisation/europeanization & European identity
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > European Parliament
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > European elections/voting behavior
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > democracy/democratic deficit
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > Council of Ministers
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series: UNSPECIFIED
    ["eprint_fieldname_eusries" not defined]: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2008
    Page Range: p. 26
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:50
    URI: http://aei.pitt.edu/id/eprint/7799

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