Many observers have expressed scepticism about granting more power to the European Parliament. The sceptics believe that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) do not vote in a disciplined way and that they vote more often with their country group than with their European Party. Using a unique database consisting of all roll call votes by each individual MEP between 1989 and 1999 (over 6000 votes by over 1000 different MEPs), we show that the sceptics are wrong. Our data shows clearly that MEPs vote more along party lines than along country lines. Party cohesion is comparable to that of the US Congress and is increasing over time whereas country cohesion is low and declining. In short, politics in the European Parliament generally follows the traditional left-right divide that one finds in all European nations. These findings are valid across issues, even on issues like the structural and cohesion funds where one would expect country rather than party cohesion. In votes where the EP has the most power - those held under the so-called co-decision procedure - MEPs participate more and are more party-cohesive. In our opinion, this unique empirical analysis provides grounds for justifying a generalization of the co-decision procedure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law