When quantity matters: Activity levels and re-election prospects of Members of the European Parliament
After each European election nearly half of the outgoing Members of the European Parliament re-enter the EP for an additional legislative term. Despite this being a persistent phenomenon, the reasons behind it are still unclear. In this paper I test the hypothesis that the work of an MEP in the EP affects their chances for re-election. I argue that there are reasons both in favour and against the link between MEP activity and performance and re-election. On the one hand, European elections are second-order, which means that citizens’ criteria largely concentrate on domestic issues, thus constraining incentives to maximise MEPs’ performance in the EP. On the other, MEPs may wish to prove to their European political group, their national party and their constituents that they are hard-working parliamentarians who deserve to be re-elected and climb the EP hierarchy.The paper focuses on the quantitative aspect of MEPs’ work in the EP. As sensationalist evidence on MEPs performance is more likely to resonate with the public, crude quantitative indicators cannot be dismissed light-heartedly. National media have often picked up how many reports, resolutions and questions MEPs have drafted in order to distinguish between ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ performers, and MEPs have proven particularly sensitive in this respect. Furthermore, increased activity in the EP implies expertise and political experience which may be valued by the national parties. The data analysis confirms that MEP output and re-election are associated.
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