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Divided Government European Style? Electoral and Mechanical Causes of European Parliament and Council Divisions

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  • Manow, Philip
  • Döring, Holger

Abstract

Voters who participate in elections to the European Parliament tend to use these elections to punish their domestic governing parties. Many students of the EU therefore claim that the party-political composition of the Parliament should systematically differ from that of the Council. This study, which compares empirically the party-political centers of gravity of these two central political actors, shows that opposed majorities between Council and Parliament may have other than simply electoral causes. The logic of domestic government formation works against the representation of politically more extreme parties, and hence against more EU-skeptic parties in the Council. At the same time, voters in EP elections vote more often for these more extreme and more EU-skeptic parties. The different locations of Council and Parliament in the pro-/contra-EU dimension may thus be caused by two – possibly interrelated – effects: a mechanical effect, due to the translation of votes into seats and then into 'office', and thus also into Council representation, and an electoral effect in elections to the European Parliament. The paper discusses the implications of this finding for our understanding of the political system of the EU and of its democratic legitimacy.

Suggested Citation

  • Manow, Philip & Döring, Holger, 2006. "Divided Government European Style? Electoral and Mechanical Causes of European Parliament and Council Divisions," MPIfG Discussion Paper 06/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:p0074
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    1. Abdul Ghafar Noury & Simon Hix & Gérard Roland, 2005. "Power to parties: cohesion and competition in the European Parliament 1979-2001," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7752, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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