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Balancing Competing Demands: Position-Taking and Election Proximity in
the European Parliament

Rene Lindstadt, Jonathan B. Slapin & Ryan J. Vander Wielen


Parties value unity, yet, members of parliament face competing demands, giving them
incentives to deviate from the party. For members of the European Parliament (MEPs), these
competing demands are national party and European party group pressures. Here, we look
at how MEPs respond to those competing demands. We examine ideological shifts within a
single parliamentary term to assess how European Parliament (EP) election proximity a ects
party group cohesion. Our formal model of legislative behavior with multiple principals yields
the following hypothesis: When EP elections are proximate, national party delegations shift
toward national party positions, thus weakening EP party group cohesion. For our empirical
test, we analyze roll call data from the fth EP (1999-2004) using Bayesian item response
models. We nd signi cant movement among national party delegations as EP elections
approach, which is consistent with our theoretical model, but surprising given the existing
literature on EP elections as second-order contests.

Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).