The impact of parliamentary activities on the reselection and reelection of members of European Parliament


Promoteur : Lieven De Winter
Chercheur : Mihail Chiru
Financement : “MOVE-IN Louvain” Incoming Post-doctoral Fellowship, co-funded by the Marie Curie Actions of the European Commission.

The absence of an electoral connection in the European Union (EU) elections, i.e. the fact that voters do not reward or punish Members of European Parliament (MEPs) for their legislative behavior is the standard view among EU election scholars. For most of the period since 1979 this view seemed too obvious to be tested empirically, but recent institutional reforms and societal developments suggest the need to reconsider the conventional wisdom. Thus, the project will investigate to what extent and how do individual parliamentary activities matter for the re-selection and re-election of MEPs. Special attention will be given to distinguishing between the electoral consequences of policy influence and of constituency service, while also adopting a longitudinal perspective to trace any changes related to electoral reform. An original  dataset will be built that will include the MEPs’ roll-call dissent levels, number of reports, opinions and parliamentary questions submitted between 1999 and 2014 and information regarding their participation in subsequent EP elections. The project would improve our understanding of patterns of EP legislative policy making over time by looking at how parties manage their most knowledgeable and resourceful cadres. By adopting a longitudinal perspective this analysis would offer an assessment of the legislative professionalization potential of the European Parliament and of how the various electoral arrangements and actual elections affect the pool of experienced and policy-influent legislators. Moreover, the project can answer several theoretical puzzles with respect to EP elections and recruitment: the supposed trade-off parties face between nominating national legislators who can win votes and nominating incumbents who can achieve policy goals; the apparent irrelevance of voting loyalty for re-election, although several scholars have emphasized that national parties, the main principals of the MEPs, are very interested in loyalty.