How political parties, rather than member-states, are building the European Union
Political party formation and coalition building in the European Parliament is being a driving force for making governance of the highly pluralistic European Union relatively effective and consensual. In spite of successive enlargements and the very high number of electoral parties obtaining representation in the European Union institutions, the number of effective European Political Groups in the European Parliament has decreased from the first direct election in 1979 to the fifth in 1999. The formal analysis of national party¹s voting power in different European party configurations can explain the incentives for national parties to join large European Political Groups instead of forming smaller nationalistic groupings. Empirical evidence shows increasing cohesion of European Political Groups and an increasing role of the European Parliament in EU inter- institutional decision making. As a consequence of this evolution, intergovernmentalism is being replaced with federalizing relations. The analysis can support positive expectations regarding the governability of the European Union after further enlargements provided that new member states have party systems fitting the European Political Groups.
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