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Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Career Behaviour and the

European Parliament
All Roads Lead through Brussels?

William T. Daniel

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Many more people deserve my thanks for their contributions to this under-
taking than the following paragraphs will allow. First and foremost, my thanks
go to Guy Peters for allowing me to begin work on this zany topic as my
doctoral dissertation and offering his support and advice along the way.
Dissertations are probably not supposed to be about going off into the wilder-
ness for months at a time and collecting tremendous amounts of untested and
untrusted data from cobweb-filled archives, but his impeccably prompt email
response time and positive input were a boon to the first iteration of this
project’s completion, whether I was in Pittsburgh or not. Thanks also to
Dominic Byatt and the staff at Oxford University Press for their enthusiasm and
support of the project. Similar thanks and appreciation go to the other members
of my doctoral defence committee—Scott Morgenstern, Nils Ringe, and Alberta
Sbragia—for their patient tutelage and unshakeable willingness to comment on
numerous drafts of my writing, well before it should have seen the light of day.
Numerous people and entities contributed to my ability to write on this
topic. Dozens of unnamed politicians, researchers, and their assistants spent
precious time patiently entertaining my questions between May 2010 and
June 2014. The EU Center of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh gen-
erously funded the majority of my fieldwork and travel for the groundwork of
this book. Without the logistical help of Marsha Tsouris and Maryann Gray,
none of this would have been possible. The administration at Francis Marion
University graciously funded additional fieldwork in 2014, which further
allowed for the collection of data needed to make the book as current as possible.
Particular thanks go to David White and Rick Almeida at Francis Marion
University, who worked hard behind the scenes to support a greenhorn
colleague’s attempt to procure the additional funding sources needed to com-
plete this book. François Foret and Michaele Arcarese from the Institut d’études
européennes at the Université Libre de Bruxelles were exceptionally gracious at
providing me with a fantastic second home to work from in Brussels in 2012;
Olivier Rozenberg and Catherine Tanaka at the Centre d’études européennes at
Sciences Po provided similar support in Paris in 2011.
Data collection would not have been possible without access to materials
provided by Phil Wilkins at the University of Pittsburgh Hillman Library’s

special collections, Odile Gaultier-Voituriez at CEVIPOF-Sciences Po, and

many unnamed librarians from the European Parliament’s CARDOC archives
in Luxembourg, the research library at the Bibliothèque Nationale Française, and
the German Statistisches Bundesamt. My apologies to Steven Sims and to the
interlibrary loan departments at Francis Marion University and the University
of Pittsburgh for tolerating dozens of my requests for obscure materials and
succeeding every time. Special thanks go to Nils Ringe and to his research
assistants at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for collaborating on data
collection for the 2009–2014 data update.
Helpful comments on previous drafts were provided at dozens of conference
and university presentations. In particular, members and attendees of the
SEDEPE panel at the 2011 ECPR General Conference in Reykjavik, Sandra
Kröger and Richard Bellamy’s panel at the 2012 ECPR Joint Sessions in Antwerp,
and Reinhard Heinisch’s conference on Austrian democracy at the Universität
Wien all deserve special mention. Organizers and participants at the 2013
Symposium on European Union Governance at the University of Illinois
offered a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas in the final stages of manuscript
preparation. Shawna Metzger, Andrea Aldrich, Basak Yavcan, and Léa Roger all
made the unwise choice of sharing a workspace with me at various points
during the project and were more instrumental than they realize in providing
input and suggestions. Lauren Perez provided a very helpful pair of eyes for my
revisions, when my own were too tired to catch my many errors. The scholarly
training and professional advice of Kris Kanthak, Chris Bonneau, Ron Linden,
Martin Holland, David Bearce, Julia Gray, and Daniela Donno Panayides were
indispensable to my completing both my graduate studies and this project.
The true unsung heroes of this project are in fact the numerous coffee shop
baristas at Crazy Mocha and Coffee Tree Roasters in Pittsburgh, Kawiarnia
Funky and Czuły Barbarzyńca in Warsaw, St Oberholz in Berlin, Lula’s Coffee in
Florence, and Café de la Presse in Brussels—all of whom provided me with the iced
lattes, good music, and speedy internet access needed to complete the numerous
drafts and rewrites of this project. Lifeguards at LA Fitness in Pittsburgh kept the
lights on for me when I frequently needed a late night swim to keep going.
Thank you to my friends—both near and far—for your love, support, and
companionship. Since this project’s inception as a misguided seminar paper
in 2009, I have been exceptionally fortunate to have met so many wonderful
people along the way. Without you, I would never have been able to call
Pittsburgh, Florence, Middlebury, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, or Warsaw ‘home’ at
various moments of this project’s development and execution. You have all
kept me sane and you have kept me laughing. Finally, thank you to my
parents and to my sisters. You have not only allowed me to embark upon a
career path that you don’t quite understand, but you have encouraged it.


List of Figures ix
List of Tables xi
Abbreviations xiii

1. Career Ambition in the European Parliament 1

2. An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour 11

3. Professionalization, Power, and Ambition 35

4. Federalism and Party Gatekeeping 56

5. Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement 77

6. French MEPs and the Effect of High Turnover 107

7. German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority 122

8. Poland and the Future Face of the EP 138

9. Towards a Broader Appreciation for Political Careers 155

Appendix A: Historical Party Groups by Party Family 164

Appendix B: New Member States Added to EP by Wave 165
References 167
Index 177
List of Figures

1.1 Three typical modes of career advancement involving the European

Parliament 6
3.1 EU monthly base salary for EU-15 MEPs, 1979–2009 40
3.2 European Parliament size and output, 1979–2014 42
3.3 The conditional effect of wave on seeking re-election, MEPs,
1979–2014 52
3.4 The conditional effect of salary on seeking re-election, MEPs,
1979–2014 52
4.1 The effect of decentralization on MEP career behaviour, EU-15
MEPs and Malta, 1979–2009 72
5.1 The conditional effect of time on committee report allocation,
MEPs, 1979–2014 96
5.2 The conditional effect of seniority on committee report
allocation, MEPs, 1979–2014 97
6.1 The effect of time and salary on ambition, French MEPs, 1979–2009 112
6.2 MEP ambition over time, French MEPs, 1979–2009 118
6.3 Seniority and report allocation, MEPs, 1979–2014 120
7.1 The effect of time and salary on ambition, German MEPs, 1979–2014 125
7.2 MEP ambition over time, German MEPs, 1979–2009 128
8.1 The conditional effect of wave on seeking re-election, MEPs, 1979–2014 144
8.2 Jerzy Buzek steps onto a Warsaw-bound aeroplane, to applause;
author’s own photograph 153
9.1 The face of the European Parliament 158
9.2 Age at end of mandate, MEPs, 1979–2014 159
9.3 Age at end of mandate, MEPs, 1979–1984 160
9.4 Age at end of mandate, MEPs, 2009–2014 160
List of Tables

3.1 Descriptive statistics (Chapter 3 models) 46

3.2 The effect of professionalization and power on re-election seeking 50
4.1 Measures of federalism and decentralization 67
4.2 Descriptive statistics (Chapter 4 models) 68
4.3 The effect of federalism and decentralization on MEP career behaviour 70
4.4 MEP career outcomes instead of seeking re-election to the EP, 1979–2009 74
4.5 MEP career outcomes instead of seeking election to National
Legislature, 1979–2009 75
5.1 Average number of committee reports per term 89
5.2 Highest degree completed (% MEPs) 89
5.3 Descriptive statistics (Chapter 5 models) 90
5.4 The effect of education and seniority on report allocation
(cross-sectional) 92
5.5 The effect of education and seniority on report allocation,
1979–2014 (pooled) 94
5.6 Selected report allocation by education, political group, and
country of origin, 2004–2009 101
5.7 Selected report allocation per committee, 2004–2009 (%) 102
6.1 Hypotheses illustrated in France, Germany, and Poland 108
6.2 Incumbency rates in select French and German elections, 1979–2009 112
6.3 List placement and MEP re-election seeking in France, 2014 115
6.4 French MEPs failing to complete their mandate, 2004–2014 116
7.1 MEP involvement and list placement in the CDU/CSU, 2014 129
7.2 MEP involvement and list placement in the SPD, 2014 130
7.3 MEP involvement and list placement in select German parties, 2014 131
7.4 Membership of German political parties in EP party groups, 1979–2014 133
7.5 Changes to the German EP delegation, 2014 134
List of Tables

8.1 Comparing the face of Polish MPs to Polish MEPs and all MEPs,
2004–2014 143
8.2 Candidate nomination practices in Poland 147
8.3 Highest degree of Polish and all MEPs, 2004–2014 151
A.1 Historical party groups by party family 164
B.1 New member states added to EP by wave 165


AfD Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany)

AFET Foreign Affairs Committee
AGRI Agriculture and Rural Development Committee
ALDE Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
CARDOC Centre archivistique et documentaire
CDU Christlich Demokratische Union (German Christian Democratic Union)
CEE Central and Eastern Europe
CEVIPOF Centre d’études de la vie politique française
CSU Christlich Sozialistiche Union (Bavarian Christian Social Union)
ECJ European Court of Justice
ECR European Conservatives and Reformists
ECSC European Coal and Steel Community
ENVI Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety Committee
EP European Parliament
EPP European People’s Party
EU European Union
EU-15 European Union 15 (pre-2004 enlargement members)
EUR Euro
FDP Freie Demokratische Partei (German Free Democratic Party)
HLM Hierarchical Linear Model
JURI Legal Affairs and Internal Market Committee
LIBE Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs Committee
MEP Member of the European Parliament
MP Member of (National) Parliament
NI Non inscrit (Unregistered)
PCF Parti communiste français (French Communist Party)
PDS Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus (German Democratic Socialists)
PECH Fisheries Committee

PES Party of European Socialists

PiS Prawo i Sprawiedliwos´ć (Polish Law and Justice Party)
PO Platforma Obywatelska (Polish Civic Platform)
PPP Purchasing Power Parity
PS Parti socialiste (French Socialist Party)
PSL Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (Polish People’s Party)
PVV Partij voor de Vrijheid (Dutch Party for Freedom)
RPR Rassemblement pour la République (French Rally for the Republic)
S&D Socialists and Democrats (Party of European Socialists)
SEA Single European Act
SLD Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (Polish Democratic Left Alliance)
SPD Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (German Social Democrats)
TRAN Transport and Tourism Committee
UDI/MoDem Union des démocrates et indépendents (Union of French Democrats)
UKIP United Kingdom Independence Party
UMP Union pour un mouvement populaire (Union for a Popular Movement)
ZINB Zero-Inflated Negative Binomial Regression


Career Ambition in the European


Institutions change constantly. New sets of rules are adopted at work, innova-
tive ideas come to the forefront of popular discourse, and circumstances
beyond our control force us to modify standard operating procedures in our
private lives. But how do we gauge our personal reactions to these changes?
What individual footprints are left to evidence the evolution of these institu-
tions? Can institutional change be explained, and can it also be measured?
This book addresses such questions within the context of the European
Parliament (EP). In doing so, it examines the development of the EP into a
powerful legislative institution and assesses the impact of these changes on
the careers of its membership. By focusing on the changing career paths of
members of the European Parliament (MEPs), I propose that we can better
understand the symbiotic relationship between institutional change and indi-
vidual behaviour.

1.1 The Importance of the Question

What is to be gained by this inquiry? The European Union (EU) and its
institutions have long been a popular venue for problematizing institutional
change. Scholars of rational choice, sociological, as well as historical institu-
tionalism have all found more than ample evidence of the rise and practice of
political institutions within the EU (Hall and Taylor 1996; Kreppel 2002;
Streeck and Thelen 2005; Tsebelis 2002). Yet, few acknowledge the leverage
to be gained by combining these approaches. The development of the Euro-
pean Parliament is undeniably the product of the EU’s history; so too is it the
product of visionary individuals, such as Jean Monnet or Altiero Spinelli. Yet,
the choice to work as an MEP is a professional one and career development is
Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

perhaps the most rational of all individual calculations. Thus, the EP is the
perfect laboratory to examine the multiple facets of institutional change.

1.1.1 Why Study the European Parliament?

The European Parliament was initially created following the 1951 Treaty of
Paris, intended to serve as an unelected advisory board to the European Coal
and Steel Community (ECSC). Politicians from the national parliaments of the
founding six ECSC member states—France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium,
Netherlands, and Luxembourg—were nominated to meet in Luxembourg in
order to discuss progress on the aims of the treaty, which were initially quite
narrowly defined. The delegates to the General Assembly—as it was originally
known—were responsible for providing collective oversight for the common
use and export of raw materials taken from the multinational Ruhr Valley
region. Their discussions and opinions were entirely non-binding and were
only used to influence the behaviour and decisions of the High Authority—
what would later become known as the European Commission—on the
execution of the treaty.
Since the 1950s, the ECSC has developed into a broadly powerful European
Union, expanding its membership from six to twenty-eight countries, grow-
ing to include first a customs union, then later a single market, and more
recently the creation of a common currency. Along with these achievements
and expansions, so too did the fledging General Assembly develop into a
popularly elected legislature, changing its statutes to require the direct elec-
tion of its membership every five years, beginning in 1979.
As of 2014, the EP contains 751 deputies, each elected from across the
twenty-eight member states of the EU. MEPs are elected to national delega-
tions, whose size is based roughly upon a member state’s population size
within the EU. National governments retain the right to the ground rules for
these elections, although elections must be carried out using a form of pro-
portional representation. Electoral list type varies widely, with some countries
electing MEPs from closed national lists, others proposing subnational and
regional contests, and many offering some degree of preference voting to
their citizens. While European elections are held during the same week in all
member states, the duration of polling, as well as the day or days on which it is
held, may also vary.
Once elected to the EP, members sit not with their national delegations but
with a set of highly developed transnational party groups. Formed along
common ideological lines, these groups have changed somewhat over time,
but are meant to represent the major party families of Europe. Most sessions of
the EP since the mid-1980s have borne witness to groups formed by Christian
democrats, national conservatives, social democrats, free-market liberals,

Career Ambition in the European Parliament

green movements, communists, and even Eurosceptic politicians. Indepen-

dent MEPs that do not sit with a transnational party group are considered to be
non inscrit (NI), or ‘unregistered’, and lose out on many of the internal
benefits—funding, as well as reserved leadership positions—accorded to the
groups. Party groups serve as both the main internal administrative divisions
for the EP as well as the EP’s voting blocs. To ensure that party groups
are formed along an ideological and not on a national basis, the EP requires
that each group has certain numbers of members from multiple national
This brief overview distinguishes the EP as a venue for the study of institu-
tional change and individual career behaviour that is rich in its variation. The
EP contains hundreds of national political parties from dozens of national
backgrounds, working together to represent prevalent societal differences
before an increasingly powerful parliament. The EP is certainly a highly
unique arena for academic inquiry, but its study also contains a number of
useful implications for scholars whose main interest extends beyond the
purview of EU studies.
A central goal of this project will be to examine the impact of institutional
changes in the EP on MEP career behaviour in such a way that it touches upon
general questions from a variety of research areas: institutional change; legis-
lative studies; federalism; political party organization; and policy making. The
EP and the careers of its membership make an important case for consider-
ation, particularly in light of the legislature’s rich diversity in each of these
areas. Thus, this volume presents the story of not just a single legislature, but
of the thousands of individuals who have served as the lifeblood of the EP
since its creation.

1.1.2 Careers as Endogenous Indicators of Institutional Change

In a recent special issue of Regional and Federal Studies, Borchert and Stolz
(2011b) discuss growing scholarly interest in political careers within multi-
level systems and advocate a renewed focus on the pathways taken by politi-
cians, as opposed to a continued interest in the individual jobs that they hold.
In doing so, they criticize political scientists who limit their unit of analysis to
specific institutions in order to explain change—particularly, the national
legislature—as opposed to studying how the careers of those working in
such institutions connect them with others. While the articles in the volume
do not consider the EP directly, we might imagine that the European Parlia-
ment lends an ideal backdrop for such a study of political careers.
Directly elected since 1979, the EP is a bulwark of representative legitimacy
within the EU and is one of the largest directly elected legislatures in
the democratic world. The EP has substantially increased its power under

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

subsequent EU treaty reforms and now stands on even footing with the
Council of Ministers with regards to the passage of EU legislation in many
subject areas. As veteran EP scholar Amie Kreppel (2011) suggests, the EP has
evolved into a sort of ‘lower house’ for the inter-institutional EU policy-
making process. While institutional developments in the EP are now well
documented by the scholarly literature, it remains less clear how such changes
affect those serving in the institution itself.
In recent years, growth in the broader literature on the EP has outpaced
popular interest in the legislature. Indeed, the scholarship available on the EP
is so expansive and varied that its contours resemble the literature on the
American Congress in many ways. Hix and Høyland, whose work is similarly
essential to our understanding of the EP’s functioning, detail the limits of this
literature in a 2013 issue of the Annual Review of Political Science. Their con-
cluding remarks reveal a particular concern for further studies of the EP,
especially as the motivating influences of politicians to seek election to the
EP and the lack of strong electoral connections between MEPs and their voters
suggest that scholars must treat parallels drawn between the EP and Congress
with caution. Indeed, ‘If the formation of [EP] parties or the division of
labor in committees cannot be explained by electoral incentives, then other
motivations—such as policy concerns or career paths—need to be taken more
seriously’ (186).
If we are to take an interest in how institutions change, then we should also
be looking at whom these changes affect. In the realm of legislative studies,
legislators themselves are the closest that we can get to observing the pulse of a
legislative institution. Their careers are important to consider, as they form a
link between the various professions where they have served. MEPs come from
a variety of professional backgrounds, ranging from former ministers to nov-
ice campaign staff, and go on to serve as heads of government, local leaders,
European commissioners, or CEOs in the private sector, or they simply retire.
Their careers are not only dynamic indicators of the EP’s impact on profes-
sional behaviour, but also demonstrate the extent to which MEPs exact
change within the EP in return.
Accordingly, this book should be of major interest to all scholars whose
work touches upon political careers. It has wide-ranging applications to the
study of institutional change, the European Parliament particularly, and to
the course of representative democracy in the European Union. MEP careers
depend not only upon individual ambition, but also upon the parties and
voters they represent. Thus, the puzzle of MEP careers should also be of direct
interest to scholars of legislative studies, political parties, and elections.
By focusing the unit of analysis on the careers of politicians we can take a
critical eye to the numerous political phenomena that they connect and
are affected by.

Career Ambition in the European Parliament

1.2 Careers as Institutions

The puzzle examined by this project is how institutional variation observed in

the EP interacts with the professional behaviour of its membership. Beyond
the more obvious implications for legislative scholars, political sociologists,
and devotees of the European integration literature, an examination of polit-
ical careers and the institutions that they connect also touches upon the
foundational theories of institutions themselves. We often consider career
ambition to be among the most rational of an individual’s impulses—some
take new jobs for the pay increase or added prestige, while others bide their
time in an undesirable position, waiting for an ideal time to search elsewhere.
Yet, the most common critique of rational choice theory is its inability to
explain where these preferences come from and how they change. A com-
bined focus on the EP’s development and the ambitions of its membership is
the ideal venue to examine the source and change of professional preference
Throughout the book I refer to career paths as institutions. By this, I do not
mean to imply that careers come with formally prescribed rules of procedure,
as in a legislature, or with the precise legalese of a national constitution.
Rather, I view career paths, particularly in political settings, as containing a
number of the same attributes as these more traditional institutions. Politi-
cians, as in any career, learn a set of more or less noticeable ‘rules of the
game’ (to paraphrase North 1990), which they then must deploy in order to
successfully climb the ranks of elected office. I discuss my view of career paths
as institutions in more detail in Chapter 2.
The analysis of career paths in multi-level systems such as the EU can either
reveal strict hierarchies of advancement—non-overlapping sets of office with
little interchange between them—or present multiple gateways for entry into
various levels of government (Borchert 2011). The pathways themselves offer
the best evidence for the relative importance and functioning of each institu-
tion within these systems. In this way, the institutions matter, but they are
saved from being analysed as if they operated in a vacuum. Within the context
of the EP, MEP career behaviour may reveal the varying ‘faces’ of the institu-
tion: (1) the stepping-stone parliament; (2) the retirement home; or (3) the
prime arena for EU policy. I propose three such ‘ideal’ paths for careers within
the multi-level EU in Figure 1.1.
The left column in Figure 1.1 illustrates the usage of the EP as a sort of
prolonged exit from national political life. Having served in national govern-
ment for the bulk of his or her career, the MEP retiree is sent to Strasbourg to
drink coffee with analogues from other European countries, biding time on
the pension clock and musing about matters of continental importance as an
avocation. However popular this conception of the typical MEP career may be,

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

A. Retirement Home B. Stepping Stone C. Main Interest


2. Kicked upstairs 2. Builds name in EP to 2. Builds specialized

after lengthy career. run for national office. career at EP level.


1. Main interest is 1. Relative ease of 1. Main interest is

national office. EP election EU politics only.

Voters Voters Voters

Figure 1.1. Three typical modes of career advancement involving the European

the remaining two professional paths shown in Figure 1.1 are, in fact, more
likely to be found in today’s EP. In fact, evidence from this project suggests
that MEPs are far more likely to either enter onto the European political stage
before an extended career in national politics or to bypass national office
altogether, in favour of a lengthy career at the EU level. The empirical goal
of the remainder of this book, naturally, is to tease out which MEPs are taking
which of these pathways and under what conditions.
Variation in the careers of its legislators can also reveal the EP’s relative
position in the hierarchy of other potentially available political offices. If
career time at the EP level is shorter than at the national level, then it is not
necessarily becoming a more important legislative body—at least in the eyes
of its legislators. Conversely, if a growing number of politicians are shown to
develop entire professional lives within the EP, over multiple terms of office, then
the EP might be increasing in its perceived importance. Such a finding would not
only be important for those concerned with the EU’s democratic deficit—indeed,
if the only elected body in the EU is of minimal importance to voters and
politicians, then democracy at the EU level may be in trouble—but also for
those with an interest in the party systems that direct the broader careers of MEPs.
The EP’s relationship with national parliaments is also important to party
politics scholars. In the multi-level European system, national political parties

Career Ambition in the European Parliament

serve as the principal gatekeepers for candidate selection and nomination to

elected careers at both the national and European levels. When selecting ideal
candidates, parties are forced to consider the EP’s function and select appro-
priate candidates for that venue. An examination of political careers between
these two legislative bodies can tell us a number of things—not just about the
relative position of two legislatures, but also about the inner workings of
political parties themselves. If MEPs look different from national members
of parliament (simply referred to as MPs, hereafter) in one country, but not in
another, this may serve as a proxy for the parties’ respective views of the
institution. Variation in the national electoral laws and candidate selection
processes used in the EP allows us to explore such propositions.
Finally, the careers of MEPs impact on the continued development of the
legislature itself. Returning to theories of institutional development, we see
that career variation is not just an endogenous indicator of when a legislature
is becoming more prestigious or increasingly specialized, but can also impact
on the legislature’s future development. High rates of member turnover and
transience can affect a legislature’s institutional memory, and thus perform-
ance, while uneven rates of prolonged careerism from specific national
or political backgrounds can concentrate power in the hands of a few. In
this way, the ‘feedback loop’ between the legislature and the careers of its
legislators is likely to vary in ways that are important for the EP’s continued

1.3 The Argument in Brief

This project advances a theory for the interplay between institutional devel-
opment and professional behaviour in three novel ways. First, I argue that as
the EP became a more attractive place of work—increasing in its legislative
powers, developing an internally complex system worthy of substantial pro-
fessional attention, and appropriately compensating members for the unique
demands of supranational parliamentary service—the incidence of MEPs to
develop lengthier careers at the EP level increased accordingly. Although this
theory considers previous discussions of legislative institutionalization and
professionalization (i.e. Polsby 1968; Squire 1992), as well as age-old evalu-
ations of political ambition (i.e. Schlesinger 1966), it also relies upon an
appreciation for the unique roles and capabilities of the EP.
Second, I posit a theory of party management for MEP careers across mul-
tiple levels of office, in order to account for the role of political parties
as gatekeepers for both European and national legislatures. I argue that
parties from more federalized countries within the EU are more accustomed
to dealing with candidate selection and nomination across multiple levels of

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

government and are therefore more likely to draw qualitative differences

between MEPs and MPs. Thus, we might expect MEPs from federal countries
to specialize at the European level and thus their EP delegations to have less
turnover than their unitary counterparts.
This line of argument contributes to the literature not only on candidate
selection and nomination, but also on political parties as organizations and
their roles within the legislature (i.e. Cox and McCubbins 2005; Norris 1997;
Panebianco 1988). We might expect that parties who ‘specialize’ their politi-
cians across multiple levels of government are less likely to anticipate move-
ment between these levels. Thus, MEPs who view their role as being ‘in
Europe’ are less likely to view the office in relation to other elected positions,
whereas MEPs who are less wed to their specific function within the EU are
probably more aware of a ‘second order’ perception of the EP and will thus try
to move elsewhere.
Naturally, those who treat the EP as a transient stage in a diverse career are
also less likely to become involved in its inner workings. Thus, career behav-
iour also affects the ways in which the EP continues to develop its internal
distribution of power. I therefore argue third and finally that careerist MEPs
are more likely to specialize within the institution, occupying important
internal leadership positions and serving as policy-making heavyweights in
a way that would not be possible for one-term members with an eye for a
different job. The institutional development of the EP clearly affects the
incidence of such careerism, as the increasing importance of the legislature
vis-à-vis other EU and national policy-making bodies further encourages poli-
ticians to build careers at the EP level and specialize in its policy development.
By exploring the endogenous nature of career advancement and institu-
tional development, this book proposes a number of expectations that can
help to further an understanding of legislator behaviour. The literature on
career paths expects career behaviour to change in accordance with a job’s
attractiveness, availability, and accessibility (Borchert and Stolz 2011b). How-
ever, the literature has remained mostly silent on predicted professional out-
comes in one of the world’s largest and most institutionally complex
parliaments. It is possible that the more attractive the EP can present itself as
a place of employment, the more likely we are to notice careerism among
MEPs. Further, the more available seats that national political parties make for
politicians with a specific interest in EU affairs, the less turnover with national
parliaments we should expect to see, and those MEPs with longer careers
within the institution are more likely to have access to its inner workings
and thus greater influence the course of its further development.
However, supporting these propositions with empirical evidence implies
grappling with certain theoretical and methodological challenges well beyond
the scope of extant scholarship. Whereas existing work on career paths has

Career Ambition in the European Parliament

focused mostly upon professional levels within a given country, the nature of
the European Parliament requires us to consider the political and institutional
variations of twenty-eight national political systems, each relating in a differ-
ent way to the supranational parliament. While scholars have examined the
development of the EP, or the relationship between candidate recruitment
and electoral success in the EP, or even the internal balance of power within
the EP, none have attempted to integrate all three into a single analytical
framework. A major aim of this book is thus to assemble the growing body
of research on the EP under the common roof of political careers, as well as
to create a standard approach for the empirical evaluation of these claims.

1.4 Chapter Outline

In this introductory chapter, I have presented my general research question,

discussed its importance, and provided a brief overview of my theory. In
Chapter 2, I provide a more complete discussion of my theory for institutional
change and career behaviour. I also propose a set of testable hypotheses that
are in line with my theory of MEP career behaviour and discuss a mixed
method research design for testing these assertions.
Chapter 3 introduces a significant source of new data for EP research, con-
taining information on each and every MEP elected to the EP between 1979
and 2014. I use these data in order to test my theory for EP influence on career
advancement via a series of multi-level regressions that demonstrate the EP’s
increasingly ‘desirable’ nature—as it developed internally and increased in its
external power—and the corresponding positive effect on careerism among
MEPs. This careerist streak demonstrates an increase in re-election seeking
to the EP and a decline in its usage as a stepping stone or retirement home,
as previously illustrated in Figure 1.1.
Chapter 4 considers the changing role of the national political parties as
gatekeepers for both national and European legislatures. In so doing, I trace
variation in MEP behaviour in relation to national parties and the organiza-
tion of their states of origin. I expect that parties that are already accustomed
to working across multiple levels of government, as in a federal system, will be
more likely to treat the EP as simply another level of representation, with its
own unique membership characteristics and qualities. Thus, MEPs from more
federal systems will likely display lengthier careers within the EP and move
around less between political institutions.
Chapter 5 explores the importance of MEP careerism within the legislature,
using a series of tests to account for the distribution of legislative power within
the EP. I demonstrate that MEPs with longer backgrounds in the EP, as well as
those with higher levels of education, are more likely to be granted committee

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

reports, which are essential for impacting on the course of legislation within
the specialized EP committee system. The finding is particularly amplified
since the advent of co-decision with the Council of Ministers. This evaluation
speaks to my theory of MEP behaviour and its effect on the further develop-
ment of the EP as a legislative institution. If the EP caters increasingly to
careerists, and parties reap policy benefits from sustaining specialist MEPs in
European office, then the allocation of committee reports is an important
benchmark for gauging the course of both the EP’s development and political
party response to it.
Chapters 6–8 present three cases in which MEP career variation has differed
along national lines. By examining MEPs from France, Germany, and Poland
I suggest that the relationship between institutional development and career
behaviour is generalizable, but continues to have a strong source of variation
along national lines. A classic unitary case, France’s MEP delegations have
been among the most volatile, as political parties frequently swap their poli-
ticians between national and European functions. Germany, in contrast, has a
long history of highly productive specialist MEPs who have also developed
lengthy careers at the European level, which suggests that the role of national
parties is quite different in this classic federal system. The Polish case demon-
strates the appeal of the EP in post-authoritarian Central and Eastern Europe
(CEE). Here, we view one example where the EP’s professional attractiveness is
perhaps stronger than a career in national politics.
Chapter 9 offers a discussion of the findings of the book on the whole,
considering evidence brought to bear by the empirical tests and qualitative
inquiries. I demonstrate the importance of my findings for understanding
the EP within a greater context, its implications for the changing career
options of European politicians, and its potential interest for politicians,
policy makers, and scholars of European integration alike. I also return to
the theme of representative democracy, asking just how well the EP has done
at resolving the EU’s democratic deficit.


An Institutional Theory for MEP Career


This chapter develops a theoretical framework for the interaction of the

European Parliament’s institutional development with the career behaviour
of its membership. Variation in the dependent variable of the project, MEP
career behaviour, is accounted for in three distinct ways: (1) the incidence of
MEPs who develop extended careers at the European level; (2) the incidence
of MEPs who use their time in the EP as one stage of a more diverse career path;
and (3) strategies used by MEPs to advance within the EP. For each of these
facets of MEP career behaviour, I argue that a corresponding set of factors
related to institutional change in the EP plays a mediating role. The institu-
tionalization of the EP as a professional legislature has a positive impact on
legislators’ tenure in the EP. The role of national political parties as gatekeepers
for both European and national elections shapes the broader careers of MEPs.
And a change in the policy-making opportunity structures, as the EP expands
its purview in the EU legislation process, affects strategies used by MEPs for
advancement within the parliament itself.
Before expanding upon this three-part theory, I first discuss a view of
institutions and institutional change that incorporates aspects of existing
rational choice and historical and sociological institutional theories. I dem-
onstrate how the career behaviour of politicians is compatible with such an
inclusive view of institutions. I then argue that, by viewing MEP careers
as institutions, we can not only expand our analytic purchase on the sys-
tematic study of professional behaviour in political life, but also view how
MEP career behaviour functions in conjunction with developments in the
legislature in which they serve. At the end of the chapter, I present my
theory as a set of specific hypotheses, which are then tested in the following
Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

2.1 Institutional Changes and Individual Action

I assume throughout the book that institutional changes will impact the
course of individual action. In other words, developments in the European
Parliament should be expected to affect the career behaviour of its member-
ship. Such an inquiry requires an ecumenical view of the nature of institu-
tions. Taking cues from North (1990), I view institutions as ‘the rules of the
game in society or, more formally . . . the humanly devised constraints that
shape human interaction’ (3). In practice, institutions can take on many
different guises. Within the context of a complex legislature such as the EP,
institutions range from the more formal rules regarding the apportionment of
member salaries and staff support to the less formal sets of norms and standard
operating procedures witnessed in the governing of the EP’s committee and
party group work.1
While institutions vary between the more and the less formal, I view the
dividing line between a regularized pattern of action and an institution as
stemming from a common currency of recognition and shared understanding,
which itself is generated by the creation of common group status or member-
ship. Highly formalized rules, as in the case of MEP salaries and travel allow-
ances, clearly govern the action of all members of the greater EP. Nonetheless,
unwritten and informal norms—such as the drafting of electoral lists or the
distribution of legislative reports to committee members—also develop into
recognizable patterns that can be just as effective in constraining a member’s
individual strategies within a political group or legislative committee. If our
view of political institutions allows for both formal and informal practices,
then we might also benefit from an analysis of MEP career behaviour that
treats the professional pathways taken by politicians as widely understood, yet
hardly formalized, institutions themselves.

2.1.1 Careers as Institutions

While it is easy to see how the European Parliament would qualify as a formal
legislative institution, as well as possess a number of less explicit internal
institutions, an expansive view of institutions leaves open the possibility that
the careers of MEPs can be analysed in a similar way. This notion is perhaps
novel, yet is not intended to create controversy. Career advancement—in
politics, as well as in many other fields—follows a pattern of more or less
unspoken norms, arising from regularized group behaviours. In the American
political context, we often refer to a candidate as being an ‘outsider’ if he or
she is seeking office without an extensive prior background in politics. What is
an outsider, however, if not a politician whose career advancement does not

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

meet the ‘normal’ pattern for advancement, as demonstrated by the majority

of his or her professional cohort?
Career behaviour is an institution, not just because it contains regular and
widely understood patterns of action, but also because it places a premium on
subscribing to the well-trodden pathways of one’s professional colleagues in
order to maximize individual success. Residents shadow doctors in their
desired speciality to observe best practices. Junior associates in a firm mimic
the actions of senior colleagues to bring in substantial new business and are
promoted to the rank of partner. Aspiring PhDs tailor their vitas in conjunc-
tion with academic jobs at universities with teaching or research expectations
that are the best fit for them. Senators first learn the hoops of political life as
mayors or city councilmen. In each example, a desired professional outcome is
reached most easily by ascertaining and replicating the path most travelled—
the institutional career path.
In his foundational work on US congressional careers, Schlesinger (1966)
essentially demonstrates the creation of American political careers as
institutions—namely, the emerging hierarchy of professional advancement
from local government to the White House. The political outsider may make
waves in the popular media, but the politician who follows the more incre-
mental pathway to power is the standard bearer. The English language is clear
on this point: ‘normal’ politicians with ‘normal’ careers are synonymous with
‘the establishment’. Political careers are institutions; the very existence of a
recognizable establishment is evidence of this fact.
As in America, MEPs are also products of the various career structures
present in the countries that they represent; however, their own hierarchies
for advancement may not be as neatly uniform as those found in the US
Congress. This might lead us to view the role of MEP career paths as idiosyn-
cratic or unimportant. Taken from twenty-eight country cultures and dozens
of different ideological backgrounds, it is easy to reach Navarro’s (2009b)
conclusion that MEP career behaviour is inchoate and irreducible to a com-
mon theme. However, such a view not only downplays the importance of
MEP careers as institutions, but also the study of the EP itself. The theory and
empirical findings of this project suggest that MEP career behaviour is perhaps
complex and varied, but certainly not idiosyncratic.
Although the various professional and national political backgrounds of
MEPs are seemingly too diverse to analyse at first glance, it would be unwise
to assume that there is little room for MEP careers to be analysed as a set of
normal or regular patterns of professional behaviour. Although we may not be
able to locate a ‘normal’ MEP, globally speaking, there is plenty of room to
construct mid-level explanations for standard types of MEP career behaviour,
based not only upon an MEP’s country or political party of origin, but also

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

upon their individual role as a legislator. What might such a view of MEP
careers look like?
One might take Navarro’s (2009b) view of the disparate career patterns
present within the EP as indicative of the absence of equilibrium needed to
view MEP careers as institutions: there are simply too many sources of vari-
ation to derive a common theory for the analysis of MEP career behaviour; the
development of the ‘normal’ MEP has yet to emerge. I argue, instead, that
developments in MEP careers are in fact becoming more regularized, as
the legislature itself continues to develop a strong role in EU policy making.
The variation in MEP career behaviour that we witness today is a direct
reflection of the EP’s own path of development. MEP career behaviour
is important to cast in institutional terms because it is endogenous to devel-
opments in the legislature.
MEP careers were initially linked with those of national parliamentarians,
insofar as MEPs were nominated from national parliaments. This practice was
replaced formally by the initiation of direct elections in 1979, yet many MEPs
continued to serve a dual mandate with national parliaments until this prac-
tice was outlawed. Dual mandates were first banned by a handful of national
electoral rule changes and later by an institutional directive that made holding
a mandate in national parliament ‘incompatible’ with EP office in all cases
(Council of Ministers 2002). However, this is not the only source of change
in the EP’s composition. Along the way, we also note a shifting tendency
away from retirees and elder statesmen to an increase in specialized political
functionaries, interested in the particular policy-making demands of Euro-
pean office.
On the one hand, it might be easy to account for the idea of MEPs as ‘elder
statesmen’, given the institutional history of the EP as a nominated advisory
board. Indeed, it would seem logical to nominate politicians with heightened
profiles and lengthy careers behind them to such an office, particularly if we
think of the original iterations of the EP as a sort of guardian class of political
institutional memory—not unlike the UK House of Lords or the French Sénat.
The initiation of direct elections to the EP might have changed this, yet
scholars show that EP elections have been viewed as ‘second order’ in import-
ance to national ones from the start (Reif and Schmitt 1980; Schmitt 2005). If
direct elections, at least initially, demoted the EP’s status vis-à-vis national
parliaments, then it would also seem logical to view the EP as a sort of
‘kindergarten’ for political debutantes.
I argue that MEP career paths have shifted in correspondence with both the
legislature’s internal developments and changes in its external stature. While
MEPs may have many uses for the EP as part of their broader careers (recall, for
example, the three ‘ideal’ career paths brought out by Figure 1.1), their career
behaviour is not ‘inchoate’ in the sense of idiosyncratic or unintelligible, but

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

rather a multi-faceted representation of the legislature’s own circuitous path of


2.1.2 How Institutions Change

So far, I have explained my view of institutions and shown how MEP career
behaviour fits into this definition. More controversial than the definitional
limits of institutions, however, is our understanding of how they change.
I have noted that career paths emerge as institutions when enough politicians
follow the same pathway for the purposes of professional advancement. This
position presupposes a rational choice: a politician follows the career sequence
most likely to lead to his or her maximum career payoff. Utility maximization,
in this sense, could mean prestige, power, influence, visibility, access to
resources, or any combination thereof.
Traditional rational choice approaches often come under fire for their lack
of attention to institutional change, however, as they tend to be more con-
cerned with explaining the opposite result of continuity or equilibrium (see,
for example, Tsebelis 2002). When rational choice theory does account for
change, it is often criticized for its simplistic view of individual preferences as
fixed, exogenous, and clearly understood (see, for example, debates in Green
and Shapiro 1996; Mansbridge 1990; Scharpf 1997; all in Schmidt 2010). Surely,
MEP career preferences may change in response to institutional developments
in the EP, yet traditional rational choice is incapable of both explaining
individual preference formation and endogenizing preferences within the
processes of institutional change (but see also discussions of bounded ration-
ality in Peters 2005).
Conversely, proponents of historical institutionalism may provide us with a
more appropriate set of tools for analysing the sources of institutional change
in a setting as diverse as the EP. Schmidt (2010) discusses the common claims
of historical institutionalists. Conceived of as ‘regularized practices with rule-
like qualities’ (10), institutions arise and consolidate within a context of path-
dependent historical processes. Indeed, the original decision to pay MEPs
in line with national MP salaries has much to do with the fact that MEPs
were originally appointed from national parliamentary delegations. Yet this
rule remained in effect until 2009—long after national MPs were barred from
sitting concurrently in the EP. However, while historical institutionalism may
provide us with a clearer understanding of how institutional change comes
about, it does not necessarily do a more ample job of predicting where and
when future changes may take place.
In his volume on institutional developments in the US Congress, Schickler
(2001) offers a view of rule changes that might be viewed in light of both the
historical nature of Congress as well as the rational impulses of its law makers.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

He concedes that institutional complexity may favour equilibrium in general,

yet certain ‘holes’ remain within institutions that allow for future ‘disjointed’
developments. Hacker (2005) presents a similar story in his study of US
pension schemes, showing that while the public system has become seem-
ingly too complex to revise adequately, private market-based 401(k) and IRA
programmes were easily launched alongside public pensions, benefiting from
various vacancies (the ‘holes’) within extant regulations. Eventually, these
‘complementary’ institutions usurped the public system in popularity
altogether: the institution of American pensions had evolved (see also
Palier 2005).
In their edited volume, Streeck and Thelen (2005) refer to such processes as
the ‘layering’ of competing institutions. New institutions are created along-
side existing ones, and their interaction produces an outcome that neither one
would have been able to produce independently. This interaction of institu-
tional development may be just the view needed for an analysis of MEP careers
under institutional change. If we view MEP career behaviour as a separate
institution, alongside the more formalized institutions of the legislature itself,
then it becomes easy to see how changes made to the EP’s operating proce-
dures or status among the other EU institutions can effect change in the career
behaviour of MEPs. Internal complexity and external influence may attract
increasing numbers of MEPs to seek re-election; national parties may nomin-
ate higher profile politicians to European office; and internal advancement
among MEPs may shift in accordance with the legislature’s organization.

2.1.3 A Theoretical View for MEP Career Behaviour

So far, I have argued that the career paths of MEPs can be viewed as a dynamic
institution, endogenous to developments in the EP. My view of institutional
change is sympathetic to rational choice, to the extent that career behaviour is
often the product of individual preferences and calculations about one’s
personal utility. However, unlike in traditional rational choice theory, I seek
to endogenize individual preference formation among MEPs within the
changing role of the EP as a legislature. Change in the EP is a process that is
closely related to its historical development, and I take a number of my cues
from historical institutionalism. History can explain major changes in the EP’s
institutional design and account for the impact of these changes on MEP
careers. MEP career behaviour is an institution, in the sense that it has become
regularized over time, and derives its meaning from both developments in the
legislature and the national parties and the incentive structures present for
internal advancement within the EP itself.
In the remaining sections of the chapter, I present a detailed theory for
MEP career behaviour. I begin by discussing the potential impact of legislative

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

professionalism on MEP career tenure. I then move on to examine how

changes in the EP’s role in EU policy making present a new set of incentives
for political parties to consider when nominating MEPs for the job. I finally
consider the individual incentive structures present within the EP for MEPs to
develop careers at the European level and bring policy specialities to the table.
At the close of the chapter, I present my theory as a set of testable hypotheses
and discuss my research design for testing them in the remainder of the book.

2.2 Legislative Professionalism and Career Ambition

One way that MEP career behaviour has become increasingly normalized is
the development of a class of careerist MEPs whose professional ambition lies
predominantly at the European level—that is, those MEPs who seek to remain
in the EP and do not use it as a stepping stone to go elsewhere. I argue that the
historical developments of the EP as a legislature have had a positive impact
on the incidence of these careerist MEPs. The causal link is between the
developing complexity of the EP as an institution—in other words, its ‘well-
bounded’ or professional character—and the heightened incidence of individ-
ual MEPs who pursue a career at the EP level.
To develop this portion of my theory, I first review extant work on profes-
sional ambition within the EP and other elected contexts, before discussing
the concept of legislative professionalization and its potential impact on MEP
career behaviour. In doing so, I show that a predominant strand of the
literature has attempted to explain professional behaviour among legislators
by looking at their individual ‘roles’ within a given legislature. Although I find
this instinct to be a natural one, it provides the social scientist with less
analytic leverage than my view of MEP careerism as a consolidating institu-
tion, emerging from the changing capacity of the EP itself. I further explain
the link between professionalism and ambition below, defining it in contrast
to the more normative conception of legislator roles.
Schlesinger’s (1966) work on the ambition of US legislators sets the corner-
stone for the study of political careers. For Schlesinger, politicians exhibit one
of three types of ambition: discrete; static; or progressive. Discretely ambitious
politicians hold an interest in a particular office at a particular time, while
static ambition pertains to politicians with a keen interest in lengthy service at
a specific level of government. The progressively ambitious, naturally, use
their post as a springboard for elsewhere. The root causes and motivating
factors for ambition can be viewed in light of a number of individual-level
characteristics: having held previous office; possessing key social credentials
such as race or class; and timing attempts at higher office strategically within
the context of one’s professional lifespan.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

How has the concept of political ambition been exported to the EP, then?
Notwithstanding Hix’s (2008) sceptical view of the consistently ‘second-order’
nature of European office (see also work by Reif and Schmitt 1980; Schmitt
2005), much of the scholarship on careers within the EP has focused on
explaining why politicians find themselves in the EP, instead of explaining
how the EP fits into a larger picture of professional options within the Euro-
pean political space. A number of scholars have focused on the national
sources of variation in seeking re-election to the EP (Kaiser and Fischer 2009;
Kjaer 2001; Marrel and Payre 2006; Patzelt 1997, 1999; Scarrow 1997), noting,
for example, higher rates of careerism from the UK delegation, and the French
and Italian tendency to rotate politicians between the EU and national levels.2
While such case-oriented research can shed much light on the experiences of
MEPs from specific national contexts, it does little to tell us about the general
state of individual-level ambitions across the legislature as a whole.
As a result, the bulk of the literature concerned with individual MEPs takes
on a more sociological tone, comparing the demographics of MEPs and their
individual roles as legislators with those of national MPs, predominantly as a
way of illustrating differences in the culture of national and EU legislative
careers. For example, Norris (1999) demonstrates that the age distribution
within the EP is curvilinear. Young politicians lacking elected experience go
to the EP for a term, before returning home to run for office. Older politicians,
conversely, are ‘kicked upstairs’ to Europe by their parties—using the EP as a
sort of semi-retirement for the elder statesmen or as an exile from national
positions of power (see also Meserve et al. 2010).
Following in the tradition of Eulau et al. (1959), Katz (1997), and Searing
(1994), others take the view that MEPs have different personal motivations for
their service and attempt to categorize these roles as one of a handful of
possible types. For Bale and Taggart (2005), progressively ambitious MEPs
are likely to serve either as constituency advocates—signalling their loyalty to
home constituencies as a way of currying favour with national voters for
future pursuits—or policy advocates—using the EP as a soapbox for advancing
specific policy platforms—and tend to be more static in their pursuit of office
at the EU level. Operating under the assumption that MEP roles are headed
not towards professional uniformity, but rather increased diversity, Navarro
(2009b) develops his own set of five ‘ideal type’ MEPs: the publicity-seeking
animateur; the policy specialist; the constituent intermediary; the road-blocking
antagonist; and the celebrity dilettante (see also Navarro 2009a).
Such taxonomies are attractive for their categorical parsimony and general
applicability; nonetheless, they lack the causal capacity to predict which MEPs
are more likely to demonstrate which role, as well as how these roles connect
and serve their broader professional impulses. Indeed, they provide only
snapshots of particular moments in a politician’s career. Accordingly, the

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

major lines of debate are somewhat muddied over whether an MEP’s ambition
is attributable to some roles more than others or simply idiosyncratic to the
individual level. The result is a general dearth of predictive theory worthy of
providing us with insights into the typical career paths of MEPs across
national and partisan settings.
In some ways, it is unsurprising that the literature on MEP career ambition
has reached such an impasse. Whether attempting to classify MEPs by their
roles or simply differentiate between their personal characteristics, the litera-
ture on MEP careers has had no overarching theoretical framework. The
classificatory schemes have been descriptive and inductive, taken more with
the enumeration of taxonomical categories than with causal typology build-
ing. Thus, we have a relatively large amount of documented variation in MEP
career behaviour, along with a fairly small arsenal of theory to account for it.
In order to fill this lacuna, I propose the mechanism of legislative profession-
alization as one way of predicting when an MEP’s ambition will lie within the
EP, instead of elsewhere.
Extrapolating from Polsby’s (1968) classic work on the US Congress, I expect
that a more ‘well-bounded’ legislature will do a better job of retaining its
membership. Within the context of the EP, this should mean that a more
professional EP advantages static ambition and thus a lengthy career at the EU
level. The causal mechanism at play is well elaborated by the professionaliza-
tion hypothesis for US state legislators, as posited by Squire (1992). I briefly
explain the impulse behind Squire’s work, before demonstrating how his
conceptualization of professionalization can be used within the context of
the EP to predict careerism among MEPs.
Squire’s central claim is that legislatures that pay members and pay them
well, provide them with adequate staff support to focus on their legislative
tasks, and meet for substantial periods of time are more professional. Corre-
spondingly, members who expect to serve as legislative professionals and not
as seasonal workers or part-time amateurs will be more likely to launch full-
blown careers at the state level and not continue on elsewhere. The logic
behind such a measure is intuitive within the US state legislatorial context
(see, for example, Moncrief et al. 2001). The Montana Legislature—meeting
once every two years for a quick seasonal session and operating on a heavily
volunteer basis—simply does not have the same professional character as its
analogous body in New York. Using a constructed index, Squire and others
attempt to predict a variety of resultant outcomes based upon the profession-
alization scores of different state legislatures (King 2000; Squire 1992, 1993).
So, how should the EP’s professionalization impact on the career behaviour
of its membership? Quite simply, more professional legislatures should attract
more professional legislators. For legislators to maintain long-term careers in
elected office, they must not only live ‘for’ politics, but also be able to live

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

‘from’ politics (Weber 2009). The spirit of this claim has been evaluated within
a number of national contexts, from the French Assemblée nationale to the
German Bundestag (Coates and Munger 1995; Gibel 1981; Saalfeld 1997), but
never directly within the EP. Nonetheless, we should expect a more profes-
sionalized version of the EP to bring about a greater incidence of static ambi-
tion among its membership (see also a similar discussion in Norris 1999).
That a more professional EP should produce higher degrees of static ambi-
tion among its membership may seem obvious. In fact, given the dramatic rise
of the EP as an institution in such a relatively short time period, it may seem
almost tautological to suggest that as the EP develops institutionally, its
membership will become more stable and rates of re-election seeking will
increase. However, it is important to consider not only the time variant nature
of the EP as an institution, but also the variation in degrees of professionalism
within the EP itself.
In terms of basic salary, MEP remuneration has traditionally been paid by
national governments, at a rate corresponding to that of national parliamen-
tarians from that country. The EP, in turn, has generally provided a series of
allowances for travel and lodging in Brussels and Strasbourg, indexed to
differences in national purchasing power, in order to smooth major differ-
ences. Only in the early 2000s did the EP decide to assume an even salary
system across all countries, which did not come into full force until the
2009–2014 session began.3 As such, MEP salaries have traditionally varied
across both time and space a great deal.
In a given year, an Italian MEP might find herself making five times the base
pay of a Polish deputy, although they may serve alongside each other in the
same transnational party group and hold similar committee portfolios.
Although the EP has traditionally compensated for this discrepancy—via a
complex system of allowances and support for travel, support, and lodging—
the system varies in its application according to both national and EP party
group lines (Bolleyer et al. 2013; Padowska and Brück 2010; Welti 1998). With
an increase in policy competencies and the addition of EU members located
far from the major worksites of Brussels and Strasbourg, the EP continues
to offer a heterogeneous level of professionalism to its membership
(Whitaker 2014).
Thus, I take a view of the EP’s professionalization that is conscious of
teleology, while still making a strong argument for endogenizing MEP career
behaviour to the legislature’s level of professionalism. It is a fair critique of this
theory to suggest that a legislature may always be expected to become ‘more’
professionalized, but not ‘less’ so. However, the unique amalgamation of
various systems found within the EP, stemming from its patchwork develop-
ment across the various member states, suggests that the EP is not headed along
a unitary and inevitable path towards an optimal level of professionalism, but

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

instead continues to develop rather unevenly. The institution of an MEP’s

career behaviour will be expected to ‘layer’ accordingly, reacting to the varying
degrees of professionalism afforded to the particular individual.
Professionalism is not simply a matter of salary and support, however, but is
also related to the functioning of the EP itself. As Kreppel (2002) documents in
her examination of the EP’s emerging legislative power, the EP has greatly
expanded its purview in the legislative process under co-decision with the
Council of Ministers—a legislative option that has increasingly been invoked
since its initiation under the Maastricht Treaty framework. This expansion of
power has coincided not only with a proliferation of new ad-hoc committees
and the consolidation of transnational party group influence, but has also
advantaged the role of individual MEPs within the policy-making process via
the rapporteur system. Here, too, the argument might be made that the EP has
increased in its institutional capacity in a way that cannot be reversed. On
paper, this argument is probably correct. Yet, formalized institutional capacity
does not necessarily guarantee the EP an increasingly visible role within the
EU (see, for example, Burns 2013; Rasmussen and Reh 2013).
The recent EU financial crisis is an interesting example of the continuing
gap between the EP’s expected role in theory and actual role in practice. The
nature of emergency politics and the leadership style of the major Council
participants—particularly Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy—managed to
limit the debate over the EU’s fiscal compact almost entirely to the Council,
even though under current legislative processes one might have expected
the EP to play a more visible role. While many scholars may view this as
evidence of a continued intergovernmental streak in European integration
(i.e. Moravcsik 1998), we might also view the EP’s diminished role in the crisis
as indicative of a lower level of professionalization than one might have
expected. Unlike in a traditional parliament, the national leaders debating
fiscal reform are not directly responsible to the EP, disadvantaging the legis-
lature from weighing in with any level of clout. Thus, even though the EP
stands on equal footing with the Council under co-decision, it cannot usurp
the Council’s function as a forum for intergovernmental action. Once again,
we can view the professionalization of the EP as uneven and layered.
I have shown that professionalization within the EP is likely to have inter-
esting consequences for the career paths of its members. I have also suggested
that professionalization in the EP may be somewhat more heterogeneous than
one would imagine—as MEPs are confronted with many different ‘versions’ of
the EP, based on the time period and their country of origin. However, it is also
important to note that MEPs are not left alone to decide their career behav-
iour. Rather, MEPs are agents of the national political parties who nominate
them for office. Thus, to fully analyse MEP career behaviour, one must also
look to the national parties’ role of candidate recruitment and selection at

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

both the national and the European levels in order to fully appreciate the
interaction between the EP’s professional development and its members’
career behaviour.

2.3 Parties as Gatekeepers across Multiple

Levels of Government

Although legislative professionalization may be useful for explaining the

career behaviour of MEPs whose primary goal is to stay at the EP level, it is
perhaps less meaningful for distinguishing between the careers of MEPs and
other elected politicians. One major area that remains underdeveloped within
the EP subliterature and that may be helpful in this capacity is the connection
between MEPs and their national political parties. National political parties
have the sole responsibility to distinguish between candidates best destined
for either national or European legislative service. Thus, they also have an
opportunity to direct political careers across multiple levels of office. A focus
on how this professional triage takes place should indicate how the EP ranks in
comparison to national political office, as well as how its changing stature has
impacted longstanding party organizations.
In this section, I develop the expectation that parties already accustomed to
working across multiple levels of government—particularly those from more
federal systems—will foster the creation of distinct sets of politicians at both
the national and European levels and thus encourage less movement between
national and European political life. Conversely, parties from strong unitary
backgrounds, whose function is essentially to select prime national candi-
dates, will be more likely to treat the EP as a ‘reserve’ institution, leading to
the increased volatility of MEP careers from these countries. I first review the
extant literature on candidate recruitment and selection processes in national
and European elections, before illustrating how variation in political party
organization is likely to interact with differences in national regime type, in
order to influence MEP career behaviour.

2.3.1 Candidate Selection and Recruitment

Most of the extant literature on national parties and their involvement in EP
affairs addresses the extent to which parties exert influence on MEP legislative
behaviour after elections. Parties control MEP voting behaviour, they negoti-
ate and broker the obtaining of committee chairmanships, and they promote
national policy-making priorities (see, for example, Hix et al. 2007; Müller and
Saalfeld 1997; Whitaker 2001, 2009). However, national parties also influence
MEP career behaviour before European elections, insofar as they recruit and

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

select candidates suitable for the job. Suitable questions to ask, therefore, are
whether there is anything ‘unique’ about MEPs, as compared with national
politicians, and how political parties assess these differences in directing
elections at both the national and the European levels.
How does the process of candidate selection and recruitment take place at
the European level? Holland’s (1987) discussion of the UK Labour Party’s
strategy in recruiting MEPs for the initial 1979 elections presents one example:
local councils filter potential candidates up through a series of reviews and
selections before finally slating national party ballots in a way that is not very
dissimilar from what we might expect from a major party in national legisla-
tive elections. Gherghina and Chiru (2010) present a similar story for Roma-
nian parties in the 2009 EP elections, demonstrating the importance of party
favour, local bases of support, and previous electoral success as determinants
for ballot access and the probability of elections (see also Protsyk and
Matichescu 2011). Such detailed accounts point to the importance of party
organization in the candidate selection process, yet they offer few clues as to
how parties treat EP elections differently from (or perhaps similarly to)
national contests.
One way to address this gap is to return to the theoretical literature on
candidate selection. Hazan and Rahat (2006) present the most cohesive work
to date on the major sources of variation for such practices, using a two-stage
model. In the first stage, a candidate is nominated for an election from a
theoretically limitless pool of would-be politicians. Nomination practices
can be open to all registered voters at its most inclusive level (such as in the
United States), to party members only, or to a restricted subset of party
members having fulfilled a set of special requirements. For example, the
authors detail the previous policy of the francophone Belgian Parti socialiste,
where candidates for public office were required to be party members in good
standing for more than five years, subscribe to the PS newspaper, send their
children to secular state schools, make appropriate donations to party organ-
izations, and partake in the party youth and women’s guilds. Such exclusive
measures clearly restrict candidate movement and personal initiative (see
Rahat 2009).
In the second stage of the proposed candidacy, Hazan and Rahat (2006)
stress the importance of courting the party ‘selectorate’, whose job it is to
winnow the pool of eligible candidates down to a list for use in the given
election. The selection process ranges along a continuum from open primary
elections at its most inclusive to selection via a single party leader at its most
exclusive—with numerous tessellations of local and central committee con-
trol in between.4 Selection practices clearly matter, as they demonstrate with
an Israeli example, where potential Knesset candidates from a minor clerical
party are easily eligible for party nomination, but must also be selected and

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

approved by a small clique of rabbis at the peak of the national party organ-
ization. How, then, should this matter for MEPs and their relationship to
politicians with national legislative mandates?5
MEPs belonging to parties which organize their selection processes more
centrally—restricting candidacy to a small subset of voters or selecting poten-
tial nominees at a central party level—are more likely to operate at the
mercy of their parties in their career behaviour. Simply put, more centralized
recruitment processes restrict candidate agency and increase the chance that a
politician’s career will be centrally managed, rather than allowing politicians
the opportunity to direct their own careers in accordance with personal
ambition. As Norris (1997, 1999) puts it, parties can either organize as ‘siloes’—
funnelling members up and down along well-established ladders of elected
service—or they can function as disperse ‘lateral networks’ that permit entry
and exit at multiple stages of the game (see also Katz 2001). Thus, party
organization is likely to affect MEP career behaviour to the extent that parties
control candidate placement along multiple tiers of office. However, what
incentives do parties have to direct MEP careers? One major source of vari-
ation impacting on political parties across Europe is the extent to which
national regimes are organized as federal or unitary states. I now consider
how this variation may interact with party organization, in order to direct
MEP career behaviour.

2.3.2 Party Organization across Multiple Levels of Government

Initial work by Scarrow (1997) suggests that there is a strong basis for national
variation when it comes to MEP tenure. Her article details the propensity for
French and Italian MEPs to demonstrate much shorter careers in the EP than
their German and British colleagues. While this high rate of turnover for MEPs
is often cited as detrimental to the institution’s development as a serious
legislature, it should be noted that this career volatility is likely attributable,
at least in part, to MEPs’ national parties. I have already suggested that parties
can be more or less centralized in their control of candidate careers. These
organizational differences, in turn, are largely predicated on the federal regime
type of their country of origin.
In relatively unitary systems, such as in France or Italy, political parties are
accustomed to slating electoral lists for the entire country, for both national
and European elections.6 If the same party’s electorate is accustomed to nom-
inating candidates for two elections from a common pool, it is logical to
expect some ‘shadow of hierarchy’ to develop in the minds of politicians
between the two institutions. For example, it is not uncommon for well-
known French politicians to stand for election at the European level, in
order to raise the visibility of their party lists, without ever intending to fulfil

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

their mandate. Or, as another politician put it, the EP may be offered as a
‘second place’ prize for national MPs who have lost their mandate.7 The
assumption made in both of these situations is that the EP is a secondary
arena to be used by a common set of national politicians. That is, French
politicians are treated as a single set, to be divided among the various institu-
tions of government, as dictated by party need.
I anticipate that the unitary system of government found in France creates
and exacerbates this mind-set, as the majority of French governing compe-
tencies rest in Paris. Indeed, the longstanding tradition of the cumul des
mandats in France supports this idea. Politicians increase their national profile
by combining positions at the local commune, the regional council, and the
national legislature. Even today, a cursory glance over national legislator
websites reveals that a majority of French MP legislators continue to serve as
either mayors or regional representatives back in their home districts (see also
work by Abélès 2000; Jan 2005). In the French case, all politics is not only
local, but also national. The addition of a European level of representation
simply provides for another arena to conquer, or another mandate to accrue,
and thus the basis of comparison between the EP and the national parliament
is understandably linked to the institution’s perceived prestige.
If Paris has only ever been the only game in town, why should this change
under the additional career option of Brussels? The same could be said for any
other heavily unitary system, however. If politicians (and thus their parties)
are prone to comparing the EP with the national legislature in terms of
prestige, instead of function, then we should expect greater fluidity in career
behaviour between the national and European levels of elected government.
By contrast, federal systems are accustomed to dividing competencies along
multiple levels of government, usually linked to geographic areas. In such
systems, politicians are wont to gravitate to the functional areas that align
most closely with their professional interests. Taking an equally extreme
example, such as Belgium, a Francophone politician with an interest in cul-
tural policy would be better suited by a career in the Francophone community
parliament than in the national Chamber of Deputies, while a Flemish polit-
ician with an interest in health policy will be of more use working for the
regional Flemish Parliament. In a system of divided competencies, multiple
governing units already exist; however, they are less likely to be as associated
with a given level of prestige. In such a system, the EP simply becomes another
legislature, complete with its own set of competencies and interests. Thus the
politician inspired by Europe will likely focus their attention there.
Parties, similarly, will already be accustomed to working across these mul-
tiple levels—or at least have a clearer idea of their existence. As opposed to
unitary systems, we should expect to see not one set of politicians, shared
across multiple offices, but rather separate sets of politicians, cultivating

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

around each constellation of government. Insofar as this applies to my theory

of MEP career behaviour, we should expect federal systems to disfavour move-
ment between the national and European levels, allowing for MEPs to build
lengthier careers in Europe. Put more crudely, Paris may be the only game in
town for an ambitious French politician, but Berlin is already used to sharing
the stage with Potsdam, Düsseldorf, and Bremen—and must therefore also
share with Brussels.
So far, I have suggested that the EP’s institutional development is likely to
influence the career behaviour of MEPs interested in pursuing a career at the
European level. I have also shown that national political parties are likely to
impact on the movement of politicians between the EP and elsewhere, based
upon the interaction between differences in party organization and state
regime type. However, I have yet to discuss how MEPs advance in their careers
within the EP itself. In the next section, I expand my theory for MEP career
behaviour and discuss the development of a unique system for internal
advancement within the EP, which favours experience in European policy
making, as well as individual technical expertise.

2.4 Experience and Education: Internal Advancement

within the EP

Thus far, I have discussed MEP career behaviour as a function of the EP’s
course of institutional development, as well as the interaction between polit-
ical party organization and state regime type. However, developments within
the evolution of the EP have also impacted on pathways of internal advance-
ment. In this section, I briefly discuss possibilities for internal advancement
within the EP, before illustrating the increased tendency for the most influ-
ential MEPs to belong to a class of career European politicians, often possess-
ing skilled technical backgrounds relevant to specific policy areas. I then
consider the consolidation of this elite ‘clique’ of MEPs and its effect on the
continued development of the legislature as part of the EU legislative process.

2.4.1 Individual Influence within the EP

As the European Parliament has developed as a legislature, its increased
internal complexity is not only demonstrated by the rise of a strong commit-
tee system, used in the amending and preparation of legislation for plenary
votes, but also in the enumeration of a complex hierarchy of influential
positions. At the head of the EP stands a president, elected from within the
body, along with his or her council of fourteen vice presidents. Although
one might expect this system to function on paper in the way that most

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

parliaments select a prime minister and opposition leaders, the system has in
fact reflected a complex brokerage scheme between the transnational party
groups that favours a rotating presidency between the two major groups
(today’s centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and centre-right European
People’s Party (EPP) party groups), along with a balance of vice presidents
from the other party groups. The leadership core is further augmented by a
College of Quaestors, who join the vice presidents and president within
the Bureau, and who serve to regulate the administrative and financial activ-
ities of the EP.
Alongside this mostly administrative structure is a relatively opaque system
of transnational party group leadership, voting whips, and committee-based
group coordinators, who work with policy advisers and party group secretar-
iats in order to regulate and direct the legislative behaviour of the MEPs.
Within the committee system, the allocation of leadership positions is of
direct interest to the political side of these operations, as the party group
apparatchiks also administer the nomination and allocation of committee
chairmanships and vice chairmanships, which are then distributed in relation
to the party groups’ relative group size within the EP.
As one might expect, each of these positions is associated with a degree of
personal notoriety and prestige, and may thus be of professional interest to an
individual MEP. However, unlike in other committee-based legislatures, it is
not the committee chair or the voting whip that has the greatest amount of
direct influence over the course of individual legislation, but rather the legis-
lative rapporteur.

2.4.2 Committee Report Allocation and Individual Control

Legislative rapporteurships are assigned for each draft piece of legislation
upon its entrance into a given committee. Within the EU policy-making
process, the EP typically acts either in ‘consultation’ or in ‘co-decision’ along
with the Council of Ministers; however, legislative proposals originate most
often from the bureaucratic Commission.8 Rapporteurs are thus individually
responsible for articulating their committee’s position on a given piece of
legislation, which typically translates into the opinion of the EP at large
during plenary votes (as is shown formally in the work of Ringe 2010). Thus,
the writing committee reports are of critical interest to MEPs whose ambition
rests in advancing within the European Parliament. How, then, are these
reports allocated?
At the start of a given legislative session, each committee distributes a
number of points to the responsible party group coordinator, based upon his
or her party group’s relative size on the committee (and thus the EP on the
whole). Group coordinators then use these points to bid on reports that are

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

referred to the committee. More important reports (i.e. those pertaining to co-
decision) are worth more points. Thus, the group coordinator has a clear stake
in deciding which reports his or her party group should pursue. However,
once a given party group has been awarded the report, it is less clear which
MEP on the committee will be named as the rapporteur.
Kaeding (2004) illustrates a general bias for the awarding of reports to the so-
called ‘high demander’ legislators—chosen because of their lobbying connec-
tions, profile in industry, or political characteristics. Conversely, Høyland
(2006) finds a political bias in the awarding of rapporteurships to MEPs
whose national party is currently in government, which he shows to be a
way of alleviating information asymmetries and inefficiencies across the mul-
tiple EU institutions. Others have looked to more structural factors, such as
the balance of national delegations within the committee; another camp
attempts to identify expert MEPs in subject specific committees as more or
less likely to become rapporteurs (Benedetto 2005; Lindberg 2008; Mamadouh
and Raunio 2003; Yordanova 2011; Yoshinaka et al. 2010). It is also the case
that committee chairs and vice chairs often serve as ‘super rapporteurs’,
picking up leftover reports that were not awarded in the bidding process.
Inherent to each of these contentions is the notion that the rapporteur
possesses a set of desirable personal characteristics that will favour a produc-
tive outcome for the report and thus a legislative ‘win’ for the EP.9
One key problem with the extant literature throughout this area, however,
is its relative dearth of generalizable data. Conclusions are drawn either from
cherry-picked committees, specific legislative periods, or with only a few key
countries in mind. This begs the question of whether or not the findings are
truly generalizable. It may be logical for a German MEP from the Christian
Democrats to receive a budget report when Merkel is in office, or for a marine
biologist to have a disproportionate amount of reports on the fisheries com-
mittee, but should this logic extend to the hundreds of reports awarded in
areas that are less politically sensitive or technically sophisticated? Another
complicating factor is that the bidding system described above is not regulated
by the EP and varies across time and committees in its level of usage and
opacity. Further, the EP has not served in the same inter-institutional capacity
across all periods, particularly expanding its capabilities after the advent of co-
decision in the early 1990s. Therefore, it is important to take up the issue of
report allocation in a more broadly generalizable way.

2.4.3 The Rapporteur as Technician and Chief Negotiator

In their discussion of personal characteristics best suited for MEPs, Beauvallet
and Michon (2010) detail the increased importance for MEPs to possess advanced
skills for negotiation and deliberation. As the nature of legislation at the EP

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

level is comparatively technical, they also note the need for expertise in
specific subject areas (in Déloye and Bruter 2007). The themes of technical
expertise and deliberative experience seem generalizable within the allocation
of reports, as well.
In an interview with a British MEP, the deputy explained that reports in the
environment committee, on which she served, were frequently allocated
based upon the merits of prior professional training held by the numerous
scientists on the committee.10 Likewise, a former Polish MEP pointed to his
background as a trained economist, as well as his status as a former finance
minister, in his nomination for a highly sensitive economic report.11 Thus,
the perception of education is clearly important when it comes to the alloca-
tion of certain sensitive, or otherwise technically complex, reports.
However, technical training may take a backseat to negotiating ability in
other cases, as explained by one Swedish MEP, who felt that his ability to
compromise and listen to the opinions of others had been decisive in his
having received a number of reports.12 While he would not credit himself as
being an expert on the financial decisions that he reported on, he nonetheless
pointed to his ability to problem solve and collaborate with other deputies as
paramount to his ability to draft reports. He learned this lesson early on in his
tenure, when he attempted to lecture his committee on the ‘correct’ answer
for another piece of legislation. A prominent former prime minister, then
serving on that committee, scoffed at him, reminding him that the European
Parliament had ‘survived for many years without [him] . . . and without Sweden’
and would continue to do so without his dogmatic attitude.
An additional limitation to the individual power of the rapporteur is the
increased usage of ‘shadow’ rapporteurs on major pieces of committee work.
Similar in their designation to the committee rapporteur, shadow rapporteurs
are selected by opposition party groups that do not serve as the committee’s
rapporteur. Either working with their party group or with a collection of
opposition groups, the shadow rapporteur drafts their own version of the
committee report, which can sometimes rival the main committee report. As
committee reports must pass a vote by the full committee before moving on to
plenary sessions, shadow rapporteurs can sometimes be used to collect dis-
senting opinions from across the committee. While not inherently antago-
nistic, the increased usage of shadow rapporteurs (now an official designation,
tracked by the EP in its own internal statistics) to unite heterogeneous prefer-
ences highlights the need for rapporteurs to be both knowledgeable of their
subject matter and skilled negotiators.
Such anecdotes highlight the necessity for influential MEPs to possess high
levels of education, as well as be accustomed to the unique consensus-driven
approach of EP legislative negotiations, in order to receive reports. Therefore,
we might expect more highly educated and experienced MEPs to be favoured

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

in the allocation of reports. This is not only important for the satisfaction of
personal ambitions for internal advancement, but also tells us a great deal
about the output of the EP on the whole. If these assumptions hold true across
the entire legislature, then a specific set of expert and longstanding MEPs are
likely to emerge as the disproportionate wielders of influence in EP policy-
making output.

2.5 Hypotheses

My theory of MEP career behaviour examines the institutionalization of MEP

careers within the context of a developing legislature. In doing so, it traces
MEP behaviour to developments within the legislature—a view of political
parties acting as principals that is highly contingent upon national context—
and the emerging patterns of institutional advancement to be undertaken by
MEPs with an interest in an extended career within the European Parliament.
While the claims discussed in this chapter rely on both extant research and
anecdotal evidence from MEPs themselves, they are each falsifiable proposi-
tions. In this section, I restate my theory in the form of testable hypotheses,
before spending some time discussing the research design pursued by the rest
of the book.

H1: As the European Parliament expands its legislative power, its membership will
increasingly seek re-election.

One of the most important factors in the development of the EP as a legisla-

ture is its increased power vis-à-vis the other European institutions and
national parliaments—first under extended consultative powers and later
under co-decision. As the EP increases in its legislative capacity, it is logical
to expect that politicians will take a greater interest in developing extended
careers as MEPs. Thus, we should see a positive correlation between the
incidence of re-election seeking and the EP’s formal legislative powers.

H2: As the European Parliament increases in its professionalization as a legislature, its

membership will increasingly seek re-election.

On the other hand, we might also expect that a more ‘professional’ legislature
will have a similarly positive effect on the likelihood of an MEP seeking an
extended career. Not simply a matter of formal powers, legislative profession-
alization pertains more directly to the perks of the job of MEP itself: suitable
financial compensation; an internally complex system of posts and functions;
and a demanding full-time professional commitment. Part-time work may be
fine between jobs, but MEP careers are unlikely to flourish if the legislature
cannot make a case for its professional capacity.

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

H3: MEPs from federal backgrounds will build more extensive careers in the European
Parliament than MEPs from highly unitary systems.

MEP careers operate not only at the whim of individual ambition, but also at
the mercy of political parties who nominate them. My discussion of the
interaction between party organization and national regime type suggests
that MEPs from federal backgrounds are likely to seek out lengthier careers
within the EP. Parties in federal systems tend to be organized in such a way
that already facilitates the selection of multiple sets of politicians across
varying levels of government. This leads to a less hierarchical view of the
EP’s placement in relation to national offices and thus suggests a basis of
interest in the EP that is not as reliant on the mandate’s perceived prestige.

H4: MEPs with higher levels of education will have greater influence over the EP legisla-
tive process via the accrual of rapporteurships.

MEPs wishing to advance within the EP itself are able to do so via a set of
leadership positions, of which rapporteurships provide the greatest potential
for individual impact on European legislation. The nature of EU policy making
is often technically sophisticated. Furthermore, committees vary greatly in
size and MEPs are confronted with numerous votes during each plenary
session. Thus, the institutional structure of the EP favours the nomination of
specialist MEPs to serve as legislative rapporteurs in situations of technical

H5: MEPs with more experience in the European Parliament are more likely to serve as

The institutional complexity of the EP, as well as the large number of deputies
from dozens of ideological and national backgrounds, requires that even the
most recognizable of politicians invest energies in the creation of interper-
sonal networks within the EP, in order to cultivate the sort of personal profile
needed to influence the course of legislation. A reputation as hardworking and
able to reach consensus is indispensable to the EP policy-making process, yet
such reputations do not develop overnight. Thus, experience within the EP
over the course of multiple legislative mandates will favour the accrual of
rapporteurships and thus influence within the Parliament.

H6: Education and experience matter more in the assignment of higher profile rapporteur-
ships, as under co-decision.

The advent of co-decision under the Maastricht Treaty elevated the EP to the
status of ‘veto player’ along with the Council of Ministers. Under the Treaty of
Amsterdam in 1999, this status was further expanded. These developments
indicate that the EP’s opinion on a given piece of legislation is increasingly

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

valuable. This would also seem to indicate, therefore, that report allocation
has become increasingly valuable to MEPs, whose opinions now have the
opportunity to derail entire pieces of proposed Commission regulation. MEP
education and experience are not only important determinants of rapporteur-
ship allocation in general, but are expected to be increasingly important as the
EP increases its legislative clout.

2.6 Research Design: Quantitative and Qualitative Applications

How do we account for MEP career behaviour? This central question is evalu-
ated by a theory that relies upon the institutional capacity and professional-
ization of the EP, the influence of national political parties in candidate
selection and nomination processes, and the behaviour of MEPs themselves
within the legislature. My theoretical background takes a critical view of
institutional change that favours a symbiosis between institutional develop-
ment and individual action. I argue that career behaviour is an institution in
and of itself, and that the development of this institution is an extension of
the legislature in which it operates. To examine the effect of institutionalization
on MEP behaviour, I employ a mixed method research design that employs
a series of quantitative and qualitative tests.
Chapter 3 tests the first two hypotheses presented in this chapter—namely,
that an increase in the professionalization and legislative capacity of the EP
will favour the incidence of re-election seeking among MEPs. I evaluate this
claim using individual-level data from all members of the EP from 1979 to
2014. I conceive of re-election seeking as contingent upon influence at mul-
tiple levels—individual ambition, national background, and developments
within the legislature—thus, I employ a hierarchical linear model (HLM) to
test these hypotheses.
Chapter 4 tests the third hypothesis and evaluates the influence of political
parties on legislator volatility. I test the assumption that domestic regime type
will impact on MEP re-election seeking, using the new data source described
in Chapter 3. I then use a series of multinomial logit models to indicate
the relative likelihood that MEPs from federal systems will seek re-election to
the EP, as compared with a number of other professional possibilities, and
explain this behaviour in terms of party organization at the national level.
Chapter 5 tests the remaining hypotheses and addresses MEP behaviour
within the EP. I test the assumption that a clique of highly specialized and
careerist MEPs is wielding an increasingly disproportionate amount of influ-
ence on the EP legislative process via the accrual of rapporteurships. I return
once again to the main source of quantitative data to test these hypotheses,
before placing this development within the greater context of the increasingly

An Institutional Theory for MEP Career Behaviour

‘technocratic’ EU institutions. I return to the normative implications of this

increase in technocracy, even in the most democratic of EU institutions, in
Chapter 9.
Chapter 6 introduces a qualitative assessment of my theory for MEP career
behaviour and applies it to the French case. Chapter 7 examines German MEPs,
and Chapter 8 evaluates Poland’s participation in the EP. To evaluate differ-
ences in these country delegations, I rely upon both quantitative and qualita-
tive data collected about MEPs from each of the three countries. France is
presented as the ‘weak’ case for MEP behaviour, as professional paths remain
inextricable from party control and volatility between multiple levels of gov-
ernment remains high. In contrast, German MEPs are shown to possess ex-
traordinary degrees of technical specificity and lengthy careers within the
EP. Thus, they roughly demonstrate the ‘elite clique’ of MEPs described in
Chapter 5. Finally, the Polish case demonstrates the appeal of the EP to recruit
top legislators from the new member states in a national party system that
remains partially unconsolidated, hinting at the professional power and legis-
lative capacity of the institution.
Chapter 9 offers a summary discussion and conclusion of my findings, as
well as an exploration of some of the normative results for the institutional-
ization of MEP behaviour. Although the EP is frequently cited as a balm for the
democratic deficit within the EU, I suggest that the EP’s behaviour is less
democratic than we might think. If institutional changes in the EP unevenly
favour the development of lengthy careers by only a subset of MEPs, and these
MEPs in turn wield a disproportionate amount of influence on the legislative
process of the institution, then the link between voter preference and repre-
sentative democracy may not be satisfied. Instead, the EP may be headed
towards a ‘two-speed’ institution, where some voices are heard more clearly
than others and the preferences of the European publics remain obfuscated.


1. For a discussion of norms as informal institutions, see March and Olsen 1989; Powell
2. For example, Marrel and Payre (2006) discuss the ‘tourniquet’ system used by the
major French political parties in the early years of the EP, where politicians were
constantly rotated between the national and European levels in six-month intervals,
in a conscious attempt to stunt the professionalization of the legislative body.
3. MEP, personal interview, 22 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
4. For a discussion of additional sources of institutional variation in candidate selec-
tion processes in other systems, see important work by Siavelis and Morgenstern
(2008), as well as Narud et al. (2002).

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

5. For an interesting discussion on the relationship between national parties and their
MEPs, see Raunio (2000).
6. Although French electoral laws for the European Parliament were changed in 2004
to replace national lists with a set of regional ones, selection is still carried out at
the national level. For a discussion of the effects of this change on EP campaigns,
see Costa et al. (2007).
7. French MP, personal interview, 15 November 2011, Assemblée nationale, Paris.
8. For a more developed discussion of this process, see Chapters 3 and 5.
9. Although Rasmussen and Reh (2013) show that the choice of rapporteur does not
necessarily matter in whether or not the EP is able to move the final legislation
closer to its ideal point.
10. MEP, personal interview, 22 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
11. Polish MP, personal interview, 20 December 2011, Sejm, Warsaw.
12. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.


Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

Chapter 1 concluded with a discussion of three ideal pathways for the treat-
ment of the EP by ambitious politicians, each following from a popular
understanding of the legislature: (1) the EP as a retirement home; (2) the EP
as a springboard to national office; and (3) the EP as permanent place of
employment. Chapters 3 and 4 will examine the latter of these two possibil-
ities, asking how MEPs are likely to incorporate the EP into broader careers at
the national level, as well as how successful MEPs build extended careers in EP
politics itself. For the present, this chapter takes a more longitudinal view,
assessing how the EP has perhaps become less of a retirement home or a
stepping stone and more of a serious legislative institution in its own right.
Identifying the mechanism for MEP career stability requires a separation of
two distinct forces of political development. On the one hand, the Polsbian
view of legislative professionalization discussed in Chapter 2 suggests that
careerism in the EP is likely a function of increased material perks related to
the job (salary, support, and so on), as well as the ‘well-boundedness’ of the
legislature (Polsby 1968). It is logical to assume that the EP has indeed become
a more desirable place to work over time: it has paid its members somewhat
better in recent years, proliferated its internal institutions in a response to its
bulked-up legislative capacity, and grown from an underfunded talk shop run
out of a rented space in Strasbourg to a highly developed collection of cam-
puses—complete with facilities for research, dining, and exercise—in three
different countries.
On the other hand, the opportunity structures present for MEPs do not
presuppose that only material concerns will dictate career behaviour. Weber’s
(2009) distinction between careerist politicians living ‘from’ instead of ‘for’
politics is an important one. Nonetheless, the professionalization of political
careers is likely only to enhance a means towards the pre-existing goal already
present in the minds of ambitious politicians. The increased institutional
capacity of the EP does not necessarily create a set of new incentives for
politicians without a previous interest in European politics, but it can certainly
Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

make the goal of working as an MEP a more easily realizable one. What else,
then, is likely to pique the interest of an ambitious politician? Strøm (1997)
contends that legislators are in the business of seeking votes, policy, and
office. Each of these objectives is meaningless without a degree of institutional
professionalism, but also without the promise of adequate and readily identi-
fiable sources of power once in office. What good are votes and a corner office
if they do not come with the mechanisms available to actually advance one’s
policy goals?
In the remaining sections of this chapter, I discuss the evolution of the EP’s
professional capacity and test the effect of this capacity on its membership
stability. I begin with a discussion of the institutional professionalization of
the EP since initial direct elections in 1979. Evidence from parliamentary
archival holdings demonstrates that the EP has not exceeded a normal pace
of inflation for many of its professional and funding capacities since 1979,
although the overhaul of the MEP salary system in 2009 is one notable
exception to this lack of meaningful variation in the evolution of support
resources available to MEPs. On the other hand, the EP has vastly expanded
its legislative capabilities during the same period, as well as its power vis-à-vis
the other European institutions—particularly since the conclusion of the
Maastricht Treaty. The expansion of the EP’s legislative power does show a
strong and significant effect on MEP behaviour.
In the following section, I differentiate between what is meant by an
increase in power and an increase in institutional professionalization within
the EP, before summarizing their predicted effects on MEP career stability, as
presented in Chapter 2. I then introduce a major new source of empirical data
for the study of MEP career behaviour in the second section, collected from a
variety of archival and EP sources. In the third section of this chapter, I use
techniques from HLM, as well as maximum likelihood estimation, to gauge
the predicted effect of the EP’s institutionalization on the career behaviour of
its MEPs. I find that an increase in the EP’s legislative power does indeed have a
net positive effect on re-election seeking to the EP, but that major sources of
variation in an MEP’s background—particularly differences in a given MEP’s
country of origin—are worthy of further exploration. This finding motivates
the continued empirical analyses in the following chapters.

3.1 Legislative Power and Institutional Professionalization

As already discussed in the theoretical framework from Chapter 2, the

question of MEP career behaviour is closely linked to the evolutionary devel-
opment of the EP as a ‘new’ legislative institution. The incidence of seeking
re-election to the EP is one identifiable measure for gauging the course of this

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

development, but how do we assess changes within the structures of the EP

that might affect the incidence of MEPs desiring to maintain their current
position in Brussels and Strasbourg? As late as the 1994 European elections,
only 49.3 per cent of outgoing MEPs sought re-election. This figure has risen to
more than 59.42 per cent of MEPs seeking re-election in the most recent
elections in 2014, reflecting a growing political interest in the EP on the part
of legislators, even as the legislature itself dramatically expanded by nearly
300 seats during the same time period.
The question therefore is not, ‘Is the EP becoming a more stable legislative
body?’, but rather, ‘Why is the EP becoming a more stable body?’ For the
purpose of my analysis, I assume a rational choice model for career behaviour
that predicts an individual legislator from legislative wave t will seek re-elec-
tion for legislative wave t+1 when doing so maximizes the personal utility
derived from his or her remaining in that office. Because of the rapid course
of institutional development undertaken by the EP between 1979 and 2014,
I expect that changes in the institution itself will have had an effect on this
utility function. I examine two specific mechanisms, the power of the EP and
its professional institutional capacity, which have both expanded since 1979
and are likely to impact the desire of an MEP to seek further election to the EP.

3.1.1 Power and Prestige

Kreppel’s (2002) authoritative exploration of the EP’s institutional develop-
ment points to the substantial expansion of the institution’s legislative power
between its founding as an unelected advisory board for the ECSC in 1958 and
its current status as a directly elected veto player for a large portion of EU
legislation. Her discussion of the EP’s expanding legislative powers under the
parade of EU treaty reforms indicates the presence of a strong expansion of the
legislature’s power to effect change in Council decisions in a relatively short
time period, which is also likely to impact how legislators view their service
in the EP.
Beginning in 1958, the EP legislative process revolved mostly around
a procedure known as ‘consultation’. Not unlike the House of Lords in
Westminster, the EP was allowed to draft opinions on legislation proposed
by the Commission, which would then be referred to the Council of Ministers
for possible inclusion into the Council’s binding decision on the piece of legis-
lation. As Kreppel (2002) indicates, the only major innovation on the part of
the EP under consultation was their ability to strategically delay problematic
legislation, as developed by a precedent set in the 1980 ‘Isoglucose’ case (71–3).
Nonetheless, the fledgling EP had no right to initiate legislation and no right
to kill legislation; it only had the opportunity to delay its passage and offer a
rival opinion.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

In 1987, the Single European Act (SEA) brought about not only major
structural changes for the implementation of the European common market,
but also the addition of the ‘cooperation’ legislative procedure, which was to be
used by the EP in certain subject areas. Under cooperation, the EP was given a
second reading of Commission proposals, allowing it some additional powers
of dialogue with the Council of Ministers. It could also force the Council to
override EP opinion via a unanimous vote (as opposed to a qualified majority)
should an absolute majority of MEPs still disagree with the Council’s position
following its second reading. Under the SEA, the EP retained neither rights of
initiation nor legislative vetoes, but it could effectively force the slow and
painful death of a highly unpopular piece of legislation. As a result, Kreppel’s
(2002) work demonstrates that the Commission and Council were more
likely to take EP opinions seriously in the amending of legislation following
1987 (79–80).
Finally, the Maastricht Treaty reforms and subsequent Treaties of Nice and
Amsterdam provided for the possibility of an EP veto for some legislation,
beginning in 1993, and expanding the purview of this status to further subject
areas in 1999. This new ‘co-decision’ process, which is discussed at greater
length in Chapter 5, not only allowed the undisputed right of the EP to amend
and veto legislation proposed by the Commission, but also to dialogue with
the Commission on an equal footing with the Council of Ministers. As found
in the US Congress’ ‘reconciliation’ process, both the Council and the EP are
now forced to come to an agreement on a wide variety of Commission
proposals related to the implementation of the single market, which has
provided for the greatest single expansion of the EP’s legislative power over
the course of its history.
The impact of the EP’s expansion of power upon its perceived prestige could
not be more distinct. Gazzo Dilley’s (1974) journalistic assessment of the EP in
a UK news magazine refers to the legislature as a ‘talking-shop’ with ‘no real
political power at all . . . [and an] embryo of what could at some future date be a
European legislative body’ (47). Gazzo Dilley’s view of the legislature in the
1970s is strikingly different from that of a recent interview with an MEP, who
bragged about his being ‘good friends with Berlusconi’ and knowing ‘the
American ambassador to Spain quite well’, as well as his personal connections
with a former French prime minister.1 The same interviewee also noted that,
although his colleagues continue to have a ‘complex’ about their level of
power, they often fail to see how much they have won in such a short amount
of time. As another longstanding MEP put it, it is ‘only every 100 years or so
that one gets to build a legislature’.2 Surely no other legislative body in an
already consolidated democracy has seen such a dramatic reversal of its for-
tunes in such a short period of time. The development of the EP’s legislative

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

power is therefore a reasonable suspect for the driving mechanism behind

increases in its relative prestige, as well as the stability of its membership.

3.1.2 Institutional Capacity and Professionalization

Nevertheless, the journalistic evaluation of the early EP mentioned above also
references the ‘most precarious [of work] conditions’ experienced by the
original MEPs, of whom ‘the only one who has an office of his own is the
president’ (Gazzo Dilley 1974: 47). Knowing that work in contemporary
elected politics must not only be an avocation, but also a vocation, what
trends in the EP’s professionalization as a legislature have been witnessed
since the initiation of direct elections in 1979? For the purposes of this
assessment, it is helpful to look at the criteria for legislative professionalization
proposed by Polsby (1968), Squire (1992), and others, which can be summa-
rized as the presence of legislative salaries, institutional support, and profes-
sional commitment.
As previously discussed in Chapter 2, the base salaries of MEPs were paid by
their home countries for the majority of legislators between 1979 and 2009.
Although initial protocols for the direct election made reference to the need
for a harmonized system of salaries, the historical basis of the EP’s member-
ship—nominated by the national parliaments between 1958 and 1979—led
MEPs to initially receive their salary in parity with that of a national legislator.
This fact did not go unnoticed by the popular press. A 1978 article from the
Guardian, in the run-up to the first direct elections, describes the unfairness of
German MEPs ‘paid at three times as much as British’ ones, but nonetheless
argues against the use of a common salary (Langdon 1978). As Figure 3.1
demonstrates, disparities between the salaries of MEPs vary dramatically by
country for much of the EP’s history.
Figure 3.1 displays the monthly base salary, converted into comparable
2009 Euro purchasing power parity (EUR PPP) figures, for members of the
EU-15. The data reveal that MEPs from countries such as Germany or Italy
received three to four times the base salary of MEPs from others, such as
Greece, Spain, and Portugal. The introduction of a harmonized salary during
the 2004–2009 period—set in relation to a fixed percentage of the base salary
of a judge from the European Court of Justice (ECJ)—greatly increased the
earnings of most MEPs, although the new salary is somewhat lower than MPs
from Austria and Italy are accustomed to receiving.3 Although salaries vary in
relation to one another, once inflation is accounted for, it becomes apparent
that most MEPs did not experience much in the way of ‘real’ salary growth
between 1979 and 2009—at least until the initiation of the harmonized salary.
In other words, if we expect an increase in professionalization to bring about
greater rates for re-election seeking, we would also hope to see salary figures

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Monthly Salary (2009 EUR PPP)




Austria Belgium Denmark

Finland France Germany
Greece Ireland Italy
Luxembourg Netherlands Portugal
Spain Sweden United Kingdom

Figure 3.1. EU monthly base salary for EU-15 MEPs, 1979–2009

that track with the steady growth of re-election seeking to the parliament—
not a relatively static set of salaries.
If salary growth is unlikely to explain an increase in the EP’s professional-
ization, there are still many other factors related to the EP’s institutional
capacity that might explain growth in the re-election seeking of its member-
ship. Staff and other institutional supports are obviously integral parts of a
job’s professional attractiveness. Unlike MEP salaries, the EP throughout the
1979–2014 period maintained staff and travel allowances at uniform levels.
In fact, the diversity of base salaries was actually explicitly compensated by a
routinely generous set of benefits provided to all MEPs. The legislature’s
internal administrative unit, the College of Quaestors, has maintained the
EP’s ‘Rules Governing the Payment of Expenses and Allowances to Members’
document since 1979.
According to this set of administrative documents, all MEPs are provided
with allowances for travel to and from their principal residence; per diem
allowances for days that the EP is in session in Brussels or in Strasbourg;
stipends to be used in the hiring of individual staff; standard office spaces
in both of the EP’s main locations; an EU insurance and medical policy;
additional training for the acquisition of languages and computing skills;
subsidized meals and exercise memberships within the EP compound; and
even lifetime access to the legislature’s business facilities, following the end of
their mandate.

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

According to a communiqué from the College of Quaestors, the 2009 rates

for travel reimbursements provided for by the EP included direct reimburse-
ment of fully flexible airfare to and from Brussels and Strasbourg or a per
kilometre rate for travel by car, in addition to a 4,148 EUR annual lump sum
for travel. Further, MEPs were provided a 298 EUR per diem for every day spent
working in Brussels or Strasbourg, or on official business. Each MEP was also
granted an additional 21,742 EUR allowance per month, in order to cover
office and staff expenses and salaries (Fazakas 2008). Although the support
schemes afforded to MEPs are certainly generous—in many cases much more
so than those afforded to national MPs—each of the rates has been essentially
indexed automatically to inflation since 1982 and does not represent a sub-
stantial increase upon the institutional levels of support provided by the EP
since the initiation of direct elections in 1979.
One final way in which scholars have typically considered variation in the
level of institutional professionalization is to examine the professional com-
mitment demanded by a legislature. Squire’s (1992, 1993) index of American
state legislatorial professionalization includes variables for the specific time
commitment demanded by the legislature. The popular anecdote necessitating
this variable, of course, is a comparison of Montana’s seasonal legislature—
meeting for a summer term every two years—to New York or California’s
round-the-clock professional commitment demanded of state legislatures. If
the EP has varied between these two extremes, it is worth considering whether
a more professionally demanding EP might also inspire a more long-term
professional commitment on the part of its legislators.
Evidence for substantial growth in the formal time commitment of MEPs
is negligible. The EP calendar has remained fairly similar since the 1980s.
Disagreements over the legislature’s official location have led to mandates
even within the treaty structures of the EU itself, ordering the legislature to
convene for set plenary dates in Strasbourg each month. The current monthly
schedule of an MEP alternates between a week of plenary in Strasbourg, a week
each for both committee and party group work in Brussels, and a ‘green week’
for MEPs to spend at home in their constituencies. If we examine the variation
described even among United States House members in Fenno’s (1978) dis-
cussion of legislator ‘home style’, it is clear that the EP is used to following a
heavily regimented routine for the schedules of its members.
What other indicators, then, might provide us with information about
the possibility for growth in the level of the EP’s professional commitment?
Although the time MEPs spend at the office may not have changed much
over the years, the amount of work they do there may have increased.
Figure 3.2 provides some evidence of this increase, looking at growth in
the number of legislative committee reports completed by the EP, in
relation to the legislature’s size. As the figure displays, the EP, as well as

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

1000 1500 2000 2500

Average Reports per MEP Seat
MEP Seats and Total Reports




MEP Seats Total Reports

Reports per capita

Figure 3.2. European Parliament size and output, 1979–2014

its legislative output, have grown substantially since 1979. However, the
average number of reports completed by an MEP has not changed signifi-
cantly during the same time period. While Chapter 5 will address the impor-
tance of these legislative reports, both as a measure of productivity and of
personal clout within the legislature, it is worth noting that the raw gross
output of the legislature has not varied all that greatly since 1979, excluding
obvious increases in the legislature’s ability to draft additional reports follow-
ing the addition of the cooperation and co-decision procedures.

3.1.3 Changing Legislators, Changing Roles

Although the EP’s level of institutional professionalization may not have
grown at the same rate as its legislative power, it is clear for longstanding
MEPs that a change is in the air among their colleagues. One of the most
senior MEPs interviewed in the project indicated that her colleagues today
were much ‘more interested and better informed’ than when she began work
as an MEP back in the 1980s.4 Another longstanding MEP, having previously
served in national office, said that while there was ‘not a great difference in the
amount of work required’ by both legislatures in which he had served, he did
notice a ‘qualitative difference’ in the conduct of MEPs, who were quicker to
seek consensus and less partisan in their debates.5
Many MEPs interviewed for the project agreed that their work in the EP was
much less partisan and more collaborative than back at home, which they

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

found to be pleasant. As a senior MEP from the UK put it, ‘British politics is
about arguing, European politics is about making friends’.6 Although the view
of MEP roles as consensus seekers is nothing new to the literature, others
pointed to a change in the nature of parliamentary debates with the addition
of the 2004–2007 enlargement states. One German from the centre-right
European People’s Party, attempting to diplomatically describe difficulties in
working with MEPs from the new member states, was reminded that ‘one has
to visit history a bit’ in understanding why some MEPs were more difficult to
reach consensus with than others.7 A Czech from the centre-left Socialists and
Democrats group disputed this assessment, defending his colleagues’ desire to
argue for what could be accomplished in Prague ‘in the span of a day’, but
‘takes months’ to complete in Brussels.8
For whatever reason one initially becomes interested in seeking election to
the EP, it is impossible to tell with any certainty how an individual will react to
the different style of politics at play in the EP, as well as the complex institu-
tional framework and long time horizons for the completion of legislation.
A number of MEPs interviewed mentioned that it took them the majority of
their first term in the legislature to feel comfortable enough navigating the
complicated interpersonal networks of vast institutional resources available
to them in order to even begin thinking about accomplishing the policy
objectives that had motivated them to seek office in the first place. While
later chapters will address the importance of seniority within the EP at greater
length, it is important at this stage to understand that the diversity of indi-
vidual legislator roles is extremely important in predicting how MEPs will
react to the large institutional shifts in the legislature.

3.1.4 Hypotheses
The remainder of this chapter provides an empirical analysis for the effect of
both the EP’s legislative power and its degree of institutional professionaliza-
tion on the behaviour of MEPs. More specifically, it tests the following two

H1: As the European Parliament expands its legislative power, its membership will
increasingly seek re-election.
H2: As the European Parliament increases in its professionalization as a legislature, its
membership will increasingly seek re-election.

As discussed in Chapter 2, I expect that the dramatic increase in the EP’s

legislative power, particularly after the SEA and Maastricht Treaty, is likely
to have a positive effect on the re-election seeking of the legislature’s mem-
bership. Similarly, any comparative assessment of the EP with other legisla-
tures suggests that as the legislature increases its professionalization and

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

institutional capacity, it will similarly positively impact the re-election seeking

of its membership. Nonetheless, as the previous section also suggests, political
ambition is undeniably linked to a highly diverse set of individual legislatorial
roles. These roles will be examined with greater precision as major control
variables in the empirical analysis. In the following section, I describe the
collection and assembly of a new quantitative data source to test the empirical
claims made by the project.

3.2 New Questions, New Data

The scope of the research undertaken by this project entails an ambitious

programme of data collection. In order to test claims about the effect of
institutional change in the EP on the career behaviour of specific MEPs,
complete data on all members elected to the European Parliament between
1979 and 2014 is needed. Individual data on MEPs, their careers, and their
personal backgrounds already exist for portions of the time period examined,
but is neither uniformly collected nor exhaustive. In order to test the empirical
claims put forth by this project, I collected individual data on each of the
nearly 5,000 MEP mandates served during the first seven completed waves of
the EP.
Initial data collection was greatly facilitated with software developed by
Høyland et al. (2009), which allowed users to lift publicly available data
from the EP website’s membership archives until the redesigning of the EP
website in 2011. From this data, I was able to develop a starting list of each
MEP, separated by wave, as well as to collect basic demographic data, such as
gender, age, country of origin, and political party affiliation. The data collec-
tion tool also provided information on each MEP’s status on legislative and
administrative committees, such as whether or not they had served as a
committee chair or as a member of the EP’s administrative Bureau.
From there, I also needed to collect data on institutional variables of
concern. I consulted archives in the University of Pittsburgh’s exhaustive
Commission holdings, which provide the most complete copy of the Com-
mission archives outside of the EU. Internal documents provided from the EP
aided in the initial collection of salary and support information, which was
later augmented and cross-checked by new work from Brans and Peters
(2012).9 The EP’s official archival and documentary assistance service at its
secretariat in Luxembourg (Centre archivistique et documentaire, CARDOC) was
instrumental in providing data not available from the website, such as specific
support figures and information on legislative reports prior to their indexation
on the internet.

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

Collecting information on the career behaviour of individual MEPs proved

to be the most challenging part of dataset construction. Archival holdings at
the French Bibliothèque nationale research library, the German Statistisches
Bundesamt, as well as the electoral archives at Science Po. Paris’ Centre d’études
de la vie politique française (CEVIPOF) unit were able to provide some electoral
lists and official European election materials and publicity from a number
of EU member states, which I have used to examine whether or not MEPs
sought re-election in subsequent terms. Burson-Marsteller’s Europe Decides
website provided complete electoral lists for the 2014 elections.10 Personal
webpages maintained by MEPs, their parties, and their home governments
filled in most of the remaining gaps in the data and were also used to collect
statistics on the MEP levels of education used in Chapter 5. Additional data
sources are explained, as they appear, in the relevant chapters. The end result
is a fully comprehensive dataset of the elected EP membership, complete with
a surprisingly low incidence of missing data and the ability to answer ques-
tions about the EP’s effect on the career behaviour of its members.

3.3 Testing the Professionalization and Power Hypotheses

If H1 and H2 are indeed true, I expect that an increase in the professionaliza-

tion and power variables will lead to a greater incidence of re-election seeking
among MEPs over time. Taking cues from my previous discussion of the
importance of individual characteristics and roles as determinant of profes-
sional ambition, I anticipate that specific individual characteristics, such as EP
leadership, partisan affiliation, or gender, may also predispose the incidence of
static ambition. Naturally, these explanations are not mutually exclusive. It is
quite likely that both professional and individual variables interact in an
individual’s decision to seek re-election to the EP. The relationship between
professionalization, power, and ambition in the EP involves the investigation
of a number of variables, captured at multiple theoretical levels and time
points. Individual-level characteristics, such as an MEP’s role within the EP,
are impacted on a broader systemic level by higher-order concerns, such as
member pay, staff support, and time commitment. To account for the under-
lying multi-level nature of this relationship, I specify predictive models using
techniques from HLM.
HLM makes sense for a number of theoretical and statistical reasons. Using
simple multivariate regression when variation occurs on different theoretical
levels can lead to critical estimation errors and incorrect inferences. Usually,
researchers attempt to correct for multi-level variation by generalizing higher-
level variation at the individual unit level, thus reformatting these generaliza-
tions into lower-level observations, or vice versa (Singer and Willett 2003).

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

The problem with treating a system variable as an individual one, or an

individual variable as a systemic one, is that these generalizations can lead
to ecological or atomistic fallacies. Beyond the inaccuracy of such techniques
at a theoretical level, modelling multi-level causality at a single level can create
huge statistical issues; disaggregated group-level variation attributed to spe-
cific individuals in the model can pool in the error terms and create efficiency
problems or error term correlation biases (see also Luke 2005; Rabe-Hesketh
and Skrondal 2008).
To correct for these hazards, I model the impact of professionalization and
power on re-election seeking over time, using a predictive three-level longitu-
dinal model. Theoretically, we know that the decision to seek re-election is
comprised of both individual and higher-order influences. Thus, I estimate
this relationship as three nested levels: the individual MEP mandate; nested
within the country delegation; and nested within the legislative time period.
Using the MEP dataset described in the previous section, I organize the data as
a longitudinal cross-section of the full EP. This allows for seven waves of
observation (parliaments are elected to five-year terms) and a total population
of 4,803 MEP-wave observations.

3.3.1 Dependent Variable

Table 3.1 displays descriptive statistics for the data used in the chapter. I use
the dichotomous dependent variable Seek Re-election and code it with positive
values when the MEP in question sought re-election at the end of the current
wave. Seeking re-election is the most outwardly visible sign of MEPs displaying
what Schlesinger (1966) refers to as ‘static ambition’. For the purposes of this
study, higher levels of static ambition correlate positively higher levels of MEP
stability. I expect that MEPs running for continued service in the EP have a

Table 3.1. Descriptive statistics (Chapter 3 models)

Variable Obs Mean Std. Dev. Min Max

Seek re-election 4803 0.538 0.499 0.000 1.000

ln (monthly salary) 4803 8.588 0.518 7.099 9.188
Wave 4803 4.355 1.984 1.000 7.000
ln (total reports) 4803 7.580 0.179 7.177 7.697
Seniority 4797 1.579 0.904 1.000 7.000
Dropout 4803 0.108 0.311 0.000 1.000
Age 4803 55.267 10.120 26.000 90.000
Female 4803 0.261 0.439 0.000 1.000
Party in govt. 4803 0.463 0.499 0.000 1.000
EP leader 4803 0.092 0.289 0.000 1.000
Committee leader 4803 0.181 0.385 0.000 1.000
New member state 4803 0.087 0.282 0.000 1.000
Local elections 4803 1.479 0.692 0.000 2.000

Source: author’s own calculations

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

specific interest in the office; thus, static ambition is modelled in the affirma-
tive direction.
It should be noted that the coding of this variable is not the same as an MEP
winning re-election. As I am primarily interested with studying the personal
ambition of MEPs, the analysis is completely agnostic about whether or not
the candidate succeeded in running for re-election. Although the following
chapters will address the process of candidate selection by national parties
in EP elections, it should be pointed out that this coding comes with an
additional risk: outgoing MEPs may not be re-selected to appear on a future
electoral list. Were it to be the case that numerous MEPs contained the
ambition to seek re-election, but were not given the opportunity to do so,
then the results may be biased by the intervening variable of a political party
de-selecting an otherwise statically ambitious MEP.
In some instances, MEPs are de-selected by their parties and take to the
national press to speak out against their political principles. One advantage to
the construction of the dataset is that by searching for each and every MEP
individually, I was able to catch a number of these situations and code the
‘spurned’ MEP’s true ambition (to seek re-election) as accurately as possible.
However, as will be discussed at greater length in Chapters 6–8, the bulk of
MEPs that are not re-selected to effective spots on an electoral list usually still
remain on the list—simply at a lower level. In other cases, MEPs that were
entirely de-selected by their party went on to form new political parties for the
express purpose of attempting to stay in the EP.
While there are numerous examples of MEPs splitting from their party in
order to seek re-election to the EP on a ‘new’ or ‘splinter’ list, outgoing Dutch
MEP Laurence Stassen took perhaps one of the more creative solutions to
seeking re-election to the EP in 2014. After leaving the far-right populist
Dutch Freedom Party (Partij voor de Vrijheid), led nationally by the colourful
Geert Wilders, Stassen announced that she would cross the English Channel
in order to seek re-election to the EP on a UK electoral list—An Independence
from Europe—which was formed by former United Kingdom Independence
Party (UKIP) MEP Mike Nattrass. While it is ironic that a Dutch politician from
a stridently anti-immigrant background would herself emigrate to the UK in
an effort to secure a seat in the EP, it does demonstrate the extent to which
MEPs whose true ambition is to remain in the EP will go in order to remain in
their seat—even when they are de-selected by their national party.

3.3.2 Independent Variables

The principal independent variables of interest are derived from the Squire
professionalization index and are modelled at the country (level 2) and insti-
tutional (level 3) levels of variation. For the purposes of my analysis, I use two

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

continuous variables—salary and total reports—to proxy for professionaliza-

tion. Salary values are scaled to inflation and converted into euros, to account
for the fact that MEPs were traditionally paid in accordance with national
figures. Salary represents the average monthly MEP base salary figure for the
given term. I assume that a discrete increase in salary will lead to a greater
probability of re-election seeking. Total reports is a count variable for the total
number of legislative reports concluded in a given session and is another
measure of the EP’s level of institutional professionalization. This variable is
modelled at the institutional level. Because of the comparatively large vari-
ation in both salary and report figures, I use the natural log of both variables
throughout the econometric analyses.
As previously discussed, the passage of time is also of critical interest, as it is
directly related to the EP’s legislative clout. Thus, I use the trend variable wave
to capture variance subsumed by each successive wave of the EP. For the first
directly elected EP session in 1979, wave = 1. The expected effect of wave on
MEP ambition is clearly positive. As the European Parliament evolves over
time, gaining new powers of review and oversight vis-à-vis the other EU
institutions, a general increase in the level of MEPs seeking re-election is
expected. Thus, the expected sign on wave is positive. This time effect,
which affects the whole legislature, is also modelled as level 3. I also substitute
the count variable with a dichotomous indicator of EP power, co-decision, to
indicate later waves of Parliament in which MEPs had an option to veto
Council decisions.
To control for individual variation in roles and preferences, I model a series
of control variables at level 1. EP leader is a dichotomous indicator for individ-
uals holding an administrative leadership position (Bureau, vice president,
quaestor, or president) in the EP during the given wave. Committee leader is a
dichotomous variable for MEPs having served in a position of committee
leadership (Chair, Vice Chair, etc.) during the given wave. Seniority is a count
variable for the number of terms in the EP served by a given MEP. Dropout
controls for those MEPs who did not complete their full term and Age is the
MEP’s age at the end of their current mandate, when they would have to seek
Other controls include party in government, for MEPs whose national political
party was serving in the governing coalition of their country at the end of the
current EP term, which might suggest an MEP’s likelihood of returning to
national office during a political boom time. New member state is a dichotomous
indicator for MEPs whose country is new to the EU during the given term of
the EP, and local elections is a trichotomous indicator used by Beck et al. (2001)
for whether an MEP’s country of origin has a substantial subnational governing
presence, or if these offices are elected directly, or both. Country fixed

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

effects are used throughout the analysis, excluding Ireland as the reference

3.3.3 Constructing the Model

Multi-level models can either be expressed in terms of their component-level
equations, as in a system of equations, or in a ‘mixed’ form that encompasses
all levels into one equation, via basic algebraic properties of substitution. My
model contains three theoretical levels: (1) an individual level; (2) a country
level; and (3) a temporal level. The individual level essentially looks like a
standard Ordinary Least Squares model, where individual i from country j has
individual-level traits [X] that more or less predispose them to seek re-election
at the end of wave t:

Seek re  electionijt ¼ β0j þ βnj ½X þ ei : (3.1)

The corresponding country-level equations are essentially a parallel model,

containing variables [Z] that change by country for all individuals in country j
at time t:

β0j ¼ γ00t þ γ01 lnðSalaryÞj þ γ0nt ½Z þ ζ 0j : (3.2)

Notice here that the β0j value in level 2 corresponds with an intercept in level 1
(that is, the direct effect of the country-level variables), but does not interact
with the slope coefficients of the level 1 betas. Theoretically speaking, this
indicates that I see no reason why salary, the presence of local elections, or any
other country-level variable would interact with females, elderly MEPs, or EP
leaders in a systematically different way.
Finally, the corresponding level 3 effects are modelled to include institu-
tion-wide variation at time t:

γ00t ¼ γ00t þ01 γWave=Co-decisiont þ γ02 lnðTotal reportsÞt ; (3.3a)

γ01t ¼11 γWave=Co-decisiont þ γ12 lnðTotal reportsÞt : (3.3b)

The level 3 variables assume no random error term of their own and essentially
collapse into the second wave. The values of γ01t do interact with the slope of
the salary variable in level 2, however, indicating that there is a reasonable
expectation for salary and productivity to matter more or less at different time
points. After a bit of algebraic substitution, the full mixed model contains
interaction terms between each of the constituent multiple levels. These raw
coefficient values are displayed in the regression results found in Table 3.2. As
the dependent variable is dichotomous, I estimate the model of the logit link
function, logit (p) = ln(p/1-p).

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

3.3.4 Results and Analysis

Table 3.2 displays regression results for the effect of professionalization and
parliamentary power on the decision to seek re-election to the EP. Model (3.1)
estimates a simple effect, using only the continuous wave counter and salary
data, as well as a set of individual controls. Model (3.2) tests the robustness of

Table 3.2. The effect of professionalization and power on re-election


DV: Seek re-election (1) (2) (3)

ln (salary) 0.384** 0.254* 16.238**

(0.19) (0.13) (5.84)
Wave 0.816* 7.238**
(0.42) (2.55)
Co-decision 4.640***
ln (total reports) 19.240**
ln (salary) *wave 0.100** 0.347***
(0.04) (0.11)
ln (salary) *co-decision 0.560***
ln (salary) *ln (reports) 2.322**
ln (reports) *wave 0.556*
Seniority 0.136** 0.132** 0.132**
(0.05) (0.04) (0.05)
Dropout 3.772*** 3.777*** 3.793***
(0.26) (0.26) (0.26)
Age 0.046*** 0.046*** 0.047***
(0.00) (0.00) (0.00)
Female 0.027 0.021 0.025
(0.08) (0.08) (0.08)
Party in government 0.078 0.072 0.079
(0.07) (0.07) (0.07)
EP leader 0.159 0.157 0.157
(0.12) (0.12) (0.12)
Committee leader 0.193** 0.185** 0.194**
(0.08) (0.08) (0.08)
New member state 0.391** 0.326** 0.490**
(0.15) (0.15) (0.16)
Local elections 0.011 0.030 0.041
(0.37) (0.36) (0.37)
Constant 6.424*** 5.347*** 130.660***
(1.70) (1.27) (50.29)
Country effects? Yes Yes Yes
N 4797 4797 4797
Pseduo R^2 0.176 0.177 0.178
AIC 5528.707 5523.428 5524.365
BIC 5774.785 5769.507 5789.870

Note: R. S. E. statistics in parentheses; * p<0.1, ** p<0.05, *** p<0.01; robust clustered for 2,941
individual MEPs; country fixed effects included; Ireland excluded as a reference category.
Source: author’s own calculations

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

the wave counter, using the dichotomous co-decision variable. Model (3.3)
incorporates legislative output data from the total number of reports meas-
ured. Because the models use logistic regression, the magnitude and substan-
tive significance of the coefficient values cannot be directly interpreted.
Furthermore, the interactive nature of the models makes variables in Table
3.2 especially difficult to interpret substantively. I will return to assess these
variables graphically, but let us first consider what the models are telling us
about the state of re-election seeking in general.
The controls perform similarly across all specifications and offer an impor-
tant snapshot as to which MEPs are more or less likely to run for re-election.
Senior MEPs, as well as older MEPs, are less likely to seek re-election.
Conversely, committee leaders are much more likely to seek re-election to
the EP—perhaps indicating a self-selection effect for MEPs who are truly
interested in EP work to seek out these leadership positions. MEPs from new
member states are also somewhat more likely to seek re-election. In most cases,
new member states have come from comparatively poorer regions of Europe
(the 1980s expansions to Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain, for example, or
the 2004–2007 expansion of CEE countries). We might assume that MEPs
from these comparatively underdeveloped regions would have an increased
material incentive to retain their position in the EP. This assumption will be
more closely analysed in the Polish case in Chapter 8. MEPs from countries
with subnational elections were not more likely to seek re-election, which will
be explored in greater detail in Chapter 4.
Returning to an analysis of the key independent variables of interest, I graph
predicted probabilities generated by Tomz et al.’s (2001) CLARIFY software to
isolate the substantive effect of the passage of time on re-election seeking, as
estimated in model (3.3). Figure 3.3 displays the conditional effect of the wave
counter on the decision to seek re-election, when all other variables are held at
their mean. The results are somewhat inconclusive. Although the confidence
intervals are somewhat broad, the general function appears u-shaped. In other
words, MEPs became less likely to seek re-election, ceteris paribus, during the
1980s, before becoming more likely to seek re-election after the 1990s; in fact,
the negative trend is reversed around the same general time as the passage of
the Maastricht Treaty. While we know that the actual percentage of MEPs
seeking re-election has increased over time, we may not be able to attribute
this directly to the passage of time itself. This offers mixed support for H1.
What independent effect, however, do the professional variables have on the
decision to seek re-election?
Figure 3.4 plots the conditional effect of salary on the decision to seek
re-election for each subsequent wave of MEPs. Regression results are taken
from model (3.3) and manipulate only existing values in the salary and wave
data, as well as their interactions, when all other variables are held at their

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Pr(Seek Re-election to EP)


Figure 3.3. The conditional effect of wave on seeking re-election, MEPs, 1979–2014
Note: Dashed lines reflect 95% confidence intervals
Pr(Seek Re-election to EP)

7 7.5 8 8.5 9
Natural Log Monthly Base Salary


Figure 3.4. The conditional effect of salary on seeking re-election, MEPs, 1979–2014

mean. The slope of each wave is therefore plotted to reflect the independent
effect that salary differences can make on the decision to seek re-election. The
substantive interpretation is somewhat confusing at first glance. Figure 3.4
would seem to indicate that, for MEPs in the first few waves, low-earning
MEPs were actually more likely to seek re-election than high-earning MEPs.

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

Conversely, in later waves, MEPs with higher salaries do seem to seek

re-election at greater rates. Why might this be the case?
An examination of confidence intervals between the different waves sug-
gests that there may not, in fact, be substantively distinct differences between
predictions for each of the intermediate waves and salary conditions. In other
words, the coefficients in model (3.3) are statistically significant in their total
effects: higher salaries have a positive effect, salaries matter more in later
waves, waves with higher legislative output have a positive effect, and so
forth, but the substantive effect for the professionalization variables is not
particularly large or distinct from the wave trend. Although the coefficient
values behave in the expected directions and are statistically significant, the
substantive implications of H2 do not seem particularly large.
Another explanation for this differentiation may be found in the other
types of professional and institutional support offered by the EP over its
history. Recall the earlier discussion about travel reimbursement, staff salaries,
and per diem—all of which have existed since the early 1980s in the EP. While
countries with lower national salaries may actually seek re-election more
often, at least during the first three EP sessions (1979–1994), this might also
have something to do with the fact that institutional support in the EP—the
other ‘perks’ of the job—likely outpaced that of national parliamentarians.
Country-level evidence for this assumption will be examined in Chapters 6, 7,
and 8.

3.4 Towards a Broader View of MEP Career Advancement

The empirical analysis indicates a significant effect for the impact of the
EP’s course of development on the re-election seeking of its membership.
The dataset provides evidence for the increasing numbers of MEPs seeking
re-election as time goes on. The regression analysis in the previous section has
suggested that part of the driving force behind this increase is the EP’s expan-
sion of legislative powers and comparatively high degree of professionaliza-
tion. However, while the findings may not indicate that a Polsbian view of
legislative institutionalization and professionalization is wrong, the empirical
analysis suggests that power and professionalization tell us only a portion of
the story of MEP advancement.
Considering the distribution of the data, remember that EP salaries and per
capita legislative output have not varied all that greatly since 1979. While
certain countries may receive higher salaries than others, each of these figures
has remained fairly constant over time. Thus, most of the effect of salaries on
re-election seeking is probably an artefact of between-country differences,
which are all controlled for separately by the model. For example, once

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

variation in Greek MEPs is controlled for, the lingering effect of a below-

average salary is not a large one. Within-country salary variation will be
considered more closely in the French, German, and Polish case studies
found in Chapters 6–8. Where salaries may matter, however, is in their effect
on the most recent 2004–2009 and 2009–2014 waves of the EP, once salaries
were harmonized.
Harmonized salaries have the potential for greatly increasing the appeal of
MEP careers—especially for certain low-earning countries. MEPs from devel-
oping CEE countries clearly benefit disproportionately from the money
allocated to them in per diem and travel allocations alone, not even consid-
ering that their base salary exceeds that of their national MP colleagues’
remunerations manifold. For example, take Romanian national MPs, who
are some of the lowest paid in the EU and made only the equivalent of
2,460 EUR per month in 2009. If an MEP had to choose between running
for a national office at 2,460 EUR a month and running for the EP, with its
base salary of close to 8,000 EUR, a strong case could be made that these high-
level salary differences must have some effect on their individual professional
calculus. What remains to be seen, however, is just how the effects of these
salary differences continue to persist over time. With the 2014 EP elections
having just passed, we have only just begun to examine the ramifications of
this question fully.
This chapter has offered some initial empirical data for change in the career
paths taken by MEPs since the initiation of direct elections in 1979. In doing
so, it has presented a major new source of quantitative data for study of the EP.
The findings of this chapter suggest that an expansion of the EP’s influence on
EU policy making have had a significant impact on the incidence of MEP
re-election seeking, offering some support for H1. Increases in the EP’s profes-
sionalization are also shown to have a marginal effect, providing tepid support
for H2. If the EP is increasing its visibility and power among the various
European legislatures and institutions, it may become a more attractive career
option for ambitious politicians from across the EU. In the following chapters,
I examine major country-level differences in the treatment of the EP by
ambitious politicians across multiple levels of elected government. I then
shift my attention to how MEPs develop fuller careers at the EP level in
Chapter 5.


1. MEP, personal interview, 8 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.

2. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.

Professionalization, Power, and Ambition

3. Grandfathering provisions for the new harmonized salary allowed MEPs from
2004 to 2009 to choose between their present salary and the new EU salary for as
long as they remained in the legislature. Thus, the figure reflects the assumption
that Italian and Austrian MEPs will continue to choose their higher national salary,
whereas all other MEPs will switch to the new system. This assumption is also
maintained in the regression analysis at the end of the chapter.
4. MEP, personal interview, 29 February 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
5. MEP, personal interview, 2 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.
6. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
7. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
8. MEP, personal interview, 2 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.
9. Other notable sources of data include Déloye and Bruter (2007), Larhant (2004),
Lodge (1990, 2010), and the European Parliamentary Yearbook and internal articles
from the EU’s European Report circular.
10. Available at <>.


Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

Chapter 3 tested an empirical assumption about the European Parliament’s

development as a legislative institution, drawing the link between an increase
in the Parliament’s legislative powers, professionalization, and the stability of
its membership. In this discussion, institutional change accounted for devel-
opments in MEP career behaviour. Growth in the EP’s legislative power and its
increasingly professional internal structures served as strong predictors for
re-election seeking among MEPs. Yet, this discussion explains only a part of
the story for MEP career behaviour. The career behaviour of MEPs is also
greatly determined by a more stable source of variation, external to the EP:
the political organization of an MEP’s country of origin.
In this chapter, I explore variation in the national political systems of EU
member states and its effect on the career behaviour of MEPs. As discussed in
Chapter 2, one major source of variation between EU member states is the
presence of federal or decentralized forms of governance. With regard to my
theory for MEP career behaviour, more highly federal or decentralized systems
are expected to foster separate political groups, prone to career specialization
at various levels of government. Thus, MEPs from federal and decentralized
systems are more likely to demonstrate greater levels of static ambition with
regard to EP careers.
Conversely, centralized and unitary systems are expected to create a polit-
ical environment in which the national government is used to being the ‘only
game in town’ in the minds of ambitious politicians, vis-à-vis subnational
levels of government. Thus, with the additional possibility of elected repre-
sentation at the EU level, politicians from highly unitary and centralized
countries are more likely to view the EP as merely a backup job—a ‘second
place’ prize to serving in national office. Accordingly, MEPs from unitary
and centralized systems will be less interested in career service at the EU
level and should demonstrate greater volatility in their tenure there. For
such politicians, the EP is only a farm league or a waiting room—additional
balcony seating over the backbench of national parliaments.
Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

The concepts of federalism and decentralized governance take on many

different guises, appearing separately or in concert. Accordingly, I begin the
present chapter by outlining major differences in these two concepts. In doing
so, I am careful to distinguish between federalism as a formal organizing
principle for governments and decentralization as a functional differentiation
in governing competencies. I then discuss the effect of these differences on the
behaviour and organization of national political parties, who select candidates
for both national and European office and are thus the major gatekeepers of
multi-level political careers.
Using the MEP dataset first presented in Chapter 3, I demonstrate the
empirical effect of federalism and decentralization on career volatility at
the EP level. I find that MEP career behaviour is not only associated with
temporal variations within the EP, but also in conjunction with a more
fundamental source of variation within the EP’s membership—that of an
MEP’s country of origin. This finding suggests that for the EP to maximize
its potential to attract a cadre of professional politicians, capable of expanding
the institution’s role in elected governing at the EU level, it must strive to
make itself appear to be the ‘only game in town’ for politicians serious about
working on European legislation.

4.1 Federalism, Decentralization, and Political Party


In order to construct a causal link between the sources of variation found in

the national institutions of EU member states and the career behaviour of
individual MEPs, it is first useful to separate the formal organizing principle
of constitutional federalism from the more functionally oriented concept of
decentralization. I then discuss the impact of this distinction on the operation
of the national political parties, who serve as the main management organ-
izations for the selection and promotion of politicians at both the European
and national levels. In doing so, it should become apparent why I expect more
volatile MEP career behaviour to emerge from unitary and centralized systems,
where elected political life at the national level continues to dominate the
professional aspirations of ambitious politicians.

4.1.1 Federalism and Decentralization

The concept of federalism takes on nearly as many definitions as there are
examples of it in the world today. Accordingly, it is helpful to begin by distin-
guishing which of these properties are indicative of a formal federal system
and which of these characteristics are simply indicative of decentralized

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

competencies at multiple levels of government. For the purposes of my the-

ory, I rely on the spirit of work by Blume and Voigt (Blume and Voigt 2011;
Voigt and Blume 2012), who consider federalism to be a ‘constitutional
choice’, whereas decentralization is part of an evolving ‘reality’ of governance.
Federal constitutions may designate multiple levels of elected government,
while keeping most actual political power at the centre, whereas decentralized
governments may ascribe substantial budgetary discretion to subnational
decision makers on an ad-hoc or per-issue basis, without formally outlining
an organizational hierarchy. For scholars familiar with theories of European
integration, this important distinction echoes Wibbels’ (2000) differentiation
between ‘political’ and ‘fiscal’ forms of federalism.
In their 2012 article, Blume and Voigt identify up to twenty-five different
commonly used indicators for federalism and decentralization, ranging from
constitutional decisions about the presence or absence of subnational elec-
tions to local veto powers and the degree of vertical transfers between national
and local levels of government. Using factor analysis to examine correlations
between these indicators, their work reveals that formal federalism does not
necessarily correlate with more functional forms of decentralization at a
reliably consistent level. They then go on to test the effect of their indicators
on outcomes commonly ascribed to federalism—including national revenue,
governing stability, and even the happiness of populations—in order to show
that the concepts of federalism and decentralization not only fail to co-vary
statistically, but also can have largely different effects on the governments
that use them.
The important distinction between federalism and decentralization is cru-
cial to my empirical analysis of MEP careers. If we have reason to believe that a
country’s domestic organization will impact on the career behaviour of its
supranational elites, we ought to be very careful about identifying the specific
mechanism at play. If MEPs from formally federal countries are remaining at
the EP level for longer tenures than their colleagues from countries with
unitary constitutions, then the distinction may be attributable to differing
perceptions of prestige. If, however, politicians from functionally decentral-
ized countries remain in the EP for longer than countries where major political
power rests at the centre, then the distinction may have something to do with
qualitative differences between the types of politicians interested in work at
the European level.
For example, contemporary French subnational government might be clas-
sified as having some formally federal components, insofar as the Fifth Repub-
lic currently allows for elected representatives at the communal, regional,
national, and European levels and attributes some degree of self-rule to these
subnational bodies. However, the functional differentiation between the gov-
erning powers of Paris and those found in Bordeaux or Lyon remains highly

Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

pronounced. By contrast, while the array of elected offices found in the

Belgian federal hierarchy, with its local and regional governments, shares
many similarities with the French on paper, the regional parliaments of
Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia retain a large degree of veto power over the
bulk of legislation passed in the national Chamber of Deputies. Thus, the
decision for a French politician to serve in a representative capacity outside
of Paris is likely to differ from that of a Belgian politician’s decision to seek
elected office outside of Brussels, even though both countries might be viewed
as being ‘federal’ to some extent.
The facility of national politicians to work at multiple levels is not only
likely to be correlated with the existing number of jobs available, but also with
their qualitative differences. Thus a German politician interested in health or
cultural policy will likely prefer work in his or her regional Landtag, because
health and cultural policy decisions are made primarily at the regional level.
Similarly, a sitting German MEP was quick to identify his interest in the EP on
the grounds that his specialization in agricultural policy was most directly
impacted by decisions made at the EU level.1 Conversely, in countries less
accustomed to functional differentiation corresponding to territorial levels, a
lack of appreciation for the separate policy functions of the EU and EP is more
likely to pervade the organization of both political parties, as well as the
opportunity structures of individual politicians. I discuss this link in more
detail in the following sections.

4.1.2 Connecting Subnational and Supranational Forms of Representation

I have thus far identified two distinct bases of variation for the study of subna-
tional governments—formal federalism and functional decentralization—and
suggested that these variables may yield very different outcomes, both for
governing realities and for the career behaviour of individual politicians. How-
ever, how does variation at the subnational level apply to our study of European
legislators? To consider the effect of subnational variation on supranational
careers, it is helpful to revisit Reif and Schmitt’s (1980) notion of the European
Parliament as ‘second order’ elections. The ‘second order’ election hypothesis
suggests that European elections, being of lower interest to Europeans than their
national analogues, will have lower turnout rates and privilege fringe parties,
whose diehard supporters are more likely to show up to the polls and attract
other votes with their ‘hearts’, rather than their ‘minds’.
It is worth noting that the authors’ findings are virtually parallel to those of
Hough and Jeffery (2006), who examine the relative importance and out-
comes of regional and subnational elections in formally federal contexts (see
also Jeffery and Hough 2001). Thus, the supranational context may function
in a similar way to the domestic one when operating along multiple levels of

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

government. Both voters and politicians likely view elections at the subna-
tional and supranational levels as being of ‘second order’ in their importance
to national ones.
While second order elections may bolster the electoral results for a few
fringe politicians and their militant followers, it is far more likely that main-
stream politicians and voters alike will view the result of these competitions as
less interesting than those of national elections, even if the devolution of
power to both subnational and supranational government may indicate that
the elections are just as consequential in their outcomes. Regardless of popular
demand, however, political parties have a rational incentive to maximize
election results at all levels of competition, regardless of their interest to the
general public. Accordingly, it is worth considering how national political
party organizations handle recruitment and selection strategies for politicians
at different levels of office.

4.1.3 Political Parties in Multi-Level Elections

Deschouwer (2003) argues for the use of a renewed ‘multi-level language’ in
the analysis of political parties operating at multiple levels of elected govern-
ment. In his view, political parties in federal systems are likely to differ from
party organizations in unitary systems, asserting that ‘since two different
games are being played, one at the federal and one at the regional level . . . one
can expect an internal difference of the political parties’ (221). Recognizing
that electoral contests are held at multiple levels of government, parties in
federal contexts are likely to organize their recruitment and selection strat-
egies differently from parties in more unitary contexts. As a result, separate
levels of the party organization consider distinct pools of candidates, based
upon the specific level of the electoral contest. The more pronounced the
distinction between multiple levels of governing, the more developed the
lower levels of the party organization will be.
Most scholarly work on multiple levels of party organization has discussed
potential coordination problems for the national party organization, when
local actors have an increased role in the selection and recruitment of candi-
dates at the subnational level. Van Biezen and Hopkin (2006) refer to this
problem as a potential crisis of leadership, with both candidates and voters
unsure of whether to take cues from the national or subnational party plat-
form. This intuitive confusion is clearly demonstrated by the American sys-
tem, where state politicians must decide whether to ‘ride the coattails’ of
national party leaders or avoid them altogether, in favour of a locally focused
Others consider the potential organizational perils of operating political
parties at multiple levels in a cohesive manner (Fabre 2011; Van Houten

Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

2009; Thorlakson 2006). Should party mechanisms allow for candidates to be

‘pushed up’ the line to national office or should parties be more concerned
with allowing subnational organizations to autonomously manage their own
candidates, free from central party control? In societies with pronounced
cleavages present only in some regions, this debate can be of great importance
(see, for example, Caramani’s (2004) work on ethnic fragmentation and
national party management strategies).
Whether or not federalism complicates the organization and management
of political parties, it is obvious that parties are more likely to diversify their
organizational structures—and thus, multiply candidate selection and recruit-
ment strategies—in federal and decentralized systems. Poguntke (2007) exam-
ines the effect of party selection on both national and EP lists by local
organizations, showing that the decision to draw German MEPs from local,
rather than national, pools of candidates has a diminishing effect on the
previous elected experience of German MEPs. Meanwhile, Chhibber and
Kollman’s (2004) work on the construction of national party systems discusses
an inverse effect for party organizations in systems moving towards more
central forms of governance, as parties are able to centralize management
strategies in increasingly nationally oriented systems.
If it is reasonable for parties in federal and decentralized systems to have
greater organizational capacities for managing elections at multiple levels,
then there is not only a psychological effect at play in the minds of
federal MEPs—used to picking a level at which to work—but also a reinforc-
ing organizational effect as well. In the most extreme cases, German
MEPs, just as their colleagues from the Landtag, answer to local party leaders.
Conversely, all French MEPs eventually answer to the party secretariat
in Paris.

4.2 A Multi-Level Theory for MEP Career Paths

The previous section addressed key theoretical differences in the concepts of

federalism and decentralization, as well as their connection to the organiza-
tion of political parties and consequent effect on MEP career behaviour. In the
current section, I emphasize a set of theoretical claims for the effect of varying
political systems and party organizations on the professional behaviour of
MEPs. In doing so, it should become clear that while many politicians view the
EP as a ‘second order’ legislature on balance, its comparative importance with
national political life is likely to vary according to the organization of domes-
tic governments—particularly the extent to which governing structures are
federal or decentralized.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

4.2.1 Federalism and Career Specialists

The political science literature has traditionally treated federalism as a poten-
tial remedy for problems found in a specific country: subnational autonomy
may bolster national ethnic minority rights in a society divided along multi-
cultural lines; differences in law-making abilities may predispose certain levels
of government to consider some policy questions more than others; and
separation of powers across multiple levels may diffuse the chance of domi-
nation by a central governing majority. In her authoritative opus on the
subject, Norris (2008) argues that power-sharing institutions, such as those
found under federalism, may be advantageous to maintaining governing
stability and domestic harmony. However, the literature has remained com-
paratively mute in problematizing how federalism may also impact on the
individuals working at multiple levels of government.
In Chapter 2, I developed a general argument for why political parties, as
gatekeepers of politicians at both the national and supranational levels, have
incentives to designate separate ‘teams’ of politicians at each level of elected
government. I argued that political parties in federal systems, already used to
fielding candidates across formally distinct levels of elected office, will also
allow for diverse candidate recruitment and selection strategies at multiple
levels, in order to identify the politicians most suitable for each elected level.
There are a number of reasons why an impulse towards specialization at
different levels of office may be desirable for both the politician and his or
her political party.
Specialized careers at one level of government allow politicians to maximize
their influence in specific legislative areas of interest over the course of an
extended career. Individuals used to working at one level of government better
learn the system, create valuable interpersonal networks across party lines,
and have a chance to promote issues that are important to them. One Green
MEP mentioned his interest in the environmental policy making conducted at
the EP level as indicative of his decision to build a career at the European and
not the national level.2 Similarly, a German initially serving in her local
Landtag switched to European office because of her interest in protecting
organized labour from the effects of globalization.3 In both instances, the
MEPs’ national parties identified them as individuals with interests better
suited for EP (and not national or local) service and continued to nominate
them for office at the European level.
In the context of the EP, such ‘policy specialists’—as Bale and Taggart (2005)
or Navarro (2009a) would likely identify them—have an increased chance of
advancing policy agendas, either by relying on their acquired seniority in the
EP or by revealing their expertise in certain policy domains. The legislative
influence afforded to these long-serving policy specialists clearly benefits

Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

national party programmes and will be explored in Chapter 5 in greater detail.

For the present, it is worth considering how parties are more or less likely to
identify potentially valuable politicians across all levels of representation.
It is the contention of this chapter to test whether or not parties in federal
systems are the driving mechanism of MEP career stability, organized across
multiple spheres of government and accustomed to triaging potential candi-
dates to the level most suited to their interests and abilities. Consider, however,
the opposite situation suggested by this proposition. In a unitary system, the
main candidate management strategy for political parties is not to match
candidates with their ideal level of representation, but rather to funnel the
most talented or loyal politicians to the political centre. If unitary party systems
therefore focus on only one level of desirable elected representation—the
national one—then MEP careers will be more volatile in these contexts, as
they are taken from the wings of European office and moved onto centre stage.
Every single French elected official interviewed for this project, regardless of
their political affiliation, noted the capriciousness of national political parties
in directing their careers, as they routinely witnessed colleagues sent from the
EP to fill seats in the Assemblée nationale or shifted advisory roles in the Élysée.
One former French MEP detailed her career in this way. Initially elected to the
national parliament, she lost re-election and was moved to Brussels by her
party to ‘wait for the next national election’. Two years into her MEP mandate,
she once again was offered a seat back in Paris, as her party was committed to
maintaining a female candidate from the region.4
The French delegation, although similar in size to both Germany and the
UK in terms of EP seat allocations, routinely experienced the highest turnover
of any country in the dataset, with most French seats alternating between at
least two MEPs over the course of a given five-year mandate. This specific case
will be explored in greater detail in Chapter 6. For now, it is worth considering
whether or not the driving mechanism influencing French MEP careers is also
generalizable in all unitary EU member states.

4.2.2 Decentralization and the Centripetal Hypothesis

While Norris (2008) and others suggest that formal, federally organized con-
stitutions may be useful for delegating responsibility, it is also worth consid-
ering the effect of the more functionally (but not necessarily formally)
decentralized modes of governance present in many European countries in
our study of MEP career behaviour. A rival hypothesis to the Norris position is
that the ‘centripetal’ nature of governance—where ‘inclusive’ and ‘authorita-
tive’ governing power is centralized and not delegated—is more likely to result
in system stability and efficiency gains (Gerring et al. 2005). While the centrip-
etal hypothesis may naturally rival the normative claims for quality

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

democracy evinced by Norris, what might a more or less centripetal system of

government mean for MEP career behaviour?
In the centripetal hypothesis, formal indicators of federalism are adjusted
using functional characteristics of centralized governance. Taking cues from
Pascal’s assertion that ‘plurality which does not reduce itself to unity is
anarchy’ (in Gerring et al. 2005: 16), the authors advocate for a centripetal
form of government, working to ‘focus’ power to the centre. We know from
our previous discussion of work by Blume and Voigt (2011) that this sort of
functional centralization has an empirically different effect on a number of
governing outcomes than does formal constitutional federalism; therefore,
the result for centripetal governance on MEP career behaviour may also be
distinct from the federal hypothesis discussed above.
Most centripetal systems have strong national parties whose job is to focus
power at the centre and avoid the confusion of multiple levels of government.
Thus, centripetal countries may have a destabilizing effect on MEP careers, as
in unitary systems. However, the aim of centripetalism, in the view of Gerring
et al. (2005), is to increase governing ‘authority’ and ‘inclusion’ at all levels of
government. Thus, MEPs from centripetal countries may find their desire to
move from EP service to national office desirable for participating in central
decision making and not just indicative of national office being more presti-
gious. Conversely, less centripetal systems may encourage diffuse governing
authority and separate bases of power at the political periphery, even if these
multiple levels of government do not carry the formal designation of those
found in federal entities. This discussion is also echoed in Lijphart’s (1999)
distinction between formal federalism and functional decentralization.
Thus, while the direction of the federal and centripetal hypotheses may be
the same, with more centralized and unitary forms of governance increasing
MEP volatility and more diffuse or federal regimes engendering the greater
stability of EP membership, the theoretical and statistical bases for the twin
concepts of federalism and decentralization are distinct and can be tested
separately to better account for all possible mechanisms at play. That is, the
same effect on MEP careers may be found in countries with federal constitu-
tions as well as in formally unitary countries with high degrees of functional
decentralization. These effects can be empirically estimated using separate
sets of variables, which will be discussed at greater length in the following

4.2.3 Hypotheses and Additional Explanations

Following from the above theoretical discussion, we can summarize the antici-
pated effect of federalism and decentralization of domestic governments on
MEP careers in the form of two related hypotheses:

Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

H3a: MEPs from federal systems will build more extensive careers in the European
Parliament than MEPs from unitary systems.

In keeping with the previous discussion, I expect that MEPs from federal
countries will demonstrate less volatility at the EP than their analogous cohort
from unitary systems. This effect can be tested in a number of ways. We might
expect MEPs from federal systems to seek re-election to the EP at greater rates
than unitary MEPs—indicating a desire to specialize in EU policy making and
increase their seniority within the EP. However, we might also notice this
effect in terms of an MEP’s career path, following their tenure in the EP. If
MEPs from federal systems are mostly finishing their career after their EP
mandate while their unitary system colleagues are seeking further office at
the national level, then we can identify the effect of federalism not only on EP
stability, but also on the fuller career paths of MEPs beyond the European level.
Both of these contentions will be addressed in the following empirical analysis.

H3b: MEPs from functionally decentralized countries will build more extensive careers in
the European Parliament than MEPs from centralized systems.

Acknowledging that the mechanism at play may be the same for MEPs from
countries where functional competencies are decentralized—but no formally
federal constitution exists—we should consider that the corollary hypothesis
for such systems might also impact on MEP career behaviour. If we simply
classify federal countries by their formal constitutional documents, our rough-
shod measures may be open to omitted variable bias in the empirical analysis.
H3b, a logical corollary to H3a, suggests the additional value of considering
multiple forms of government decentralization.
Whereas Chapter 3 examined the effect of institutional sources of variation
(evolution of EP power and its professionalization), this chapter is more
concerned with domestic sources of variation on the similar outcome of
MEP career paths. Thus, a similar host of controls will matter for our consid-
eration of the effects of federalism and decentralization on MEP career behav-
iour. These include both temporal and political factors, as well as individual
demographic differences between MEPs. Nonetheless, the additional value of
the present chapter is its consideration of MEP careers beyond their time in
the EP. Using similar variables from Chapter 3, I also consider differences
in the future careers of MEPs after their present term in office. I will elaborate
upon this discussion in the following section.

4.3 Testing the Effect of Federalism and Decentralization

To test for the effect of federalism and decentralization on MEP career behav-
iour, I once again use individual-level data for all MEPs in all completed waves

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

of the EP since the initiation of direct elections between 1979 and 2014. The
basic data are collected in the same way as in previous chapters. Sources
include Høyland et al.’s (2009) tool for extracting publicly available data
from the EP website, as well as a variety of public records kept by the EP
archives in Luxembourg, national political archives, and research library
holdings. I use a number of different variables for federalism and decentral-
ization which are taken from Blume and Voigt (2011), Gerring et al. (2005),
Lijphart (1999), Norris (2008), and Teorell et al. (2011). The main federalism
and decentralization variables for use in this chapter are detailed below. The
unit of analysis is individual MEP mandate, with a total of 4,803 observations
in the full sample, across seven waves of the EP.
While most of the dataset is fully comprehensive, including all MEPs in all
completed EP settings, information on MEPs’ career paths, following the
seventh legislature’s conclusion, is not yet fully available. Furthermore, the
Lijphart (1999) data, although updated in 2011, do not contain coded values
for the majority of new member states added to the EP in 2004–2007. Models
that use combinations of this partial data (only the first six time periods,
1979–2009, or the EU-15 countries) are clearly marked as such. Remaining
missing data, although relatively minimal, are distributed randomly across
variables, MEP backgrounds, and time periods, suggesting a lack of major
concern that gaps in the data will bias the empirical results.

4.3.1 Data and Coding Choices

The main dependent variable is an unordered indicator for an individual
MEP’s career outcome, following the conclusion of the present wave of the
EP. The variable is dichotomized to test an MEP’s decision to not seek re-election
to the EP; leave politics entirely (retire, private business, etc.); run for a position
as a national MP; present his or her candidacy for a national executive (or be
assigned a cabinet portfolio); join an EU institution (such as the European
Court of Justice or the Commission); or simply return to one of a number of
positions in national politics (combining values from both national MPs and
executives). The dependent variable is clearly indicated for each of the models
The independent variables of interest are three commonly used indicators of
federalism and decentralization. As reflected by the data found in Table 4.1,
federalism and decentralization can be treated as theoretically and empirically
distinct concepts. The selected measures are all central to the broader literature
on federalism, yet they contain surprisingly little overlap in their empirical
coding schemes, supporting the need for a use of multiple indicators. Local
elections is a trichotomous indicator of the presence of direct subnational
elections in a given MEP’s home country and is taken from the dpi_state

Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

Table 4.1. Measures of federalism and decentralization

Federalism Local elections Decentralization

Austria 1 2 4.5
Belgium (before 1993) 1 1 3.5
Belgium (after 1993) 1 2 5
Bulgaria 0 2 n/a
Croatia 1 2 n/a
Cyprus 0 1 n/a
Czech Republic 0 1 n/a
Denmark 0 2 2
Estonia 0 0 n/a
Finland 0 1 2
France 0 1 1.3
Germany 1 2 5
Greece 0 1 1
Hungary 0 0 n/a
Ireland 0 2 1
Italy 1 2 1.3
Latvia 0 1 n/a
Lithuania 0 0 n/a
Luxembourg 0 0 1
Malta 0 0 1
Netherlands 1 0 3
Poland 0 1 1
Portugal 1 0 1
Romania 0 1 n/a
Slovakia 0 2 n/a
Slovenia 0 0 n/a
Spain 1 2 3
Sweden 0 1 2
United Kingdom (before 1998) 1 2 1.2
United Kingdom (after 1998) 1 2 2

Source: federalism (yes = 1, no = 0) taken from Norris (2008); local elections (yes = 2, some = 1, none =
0) taken from Beck et al. (2001); decentralization (most decentralized = 5, least = 1) taken from Lijphart

indicator initially developed by Beck et al. (2001, as cited in Teorell et al.

2011). Countries with no direct subnational elections were coded with 0,
countries with either a directly elected subnational executive or legislature
were coded with 1, while those with both a directly elected subnational
legislature and executive were coded with 2. Higher values of local elections
indicate an important source of variation for formal federal organization.
Another important formal indicator of federalism is the dichotomous feder-
alism variable, taken from Norris (2008). Positive values indicate a country
with specific mentions of federalism in their national constitution.
To account for the possibility that functional decentralization, even in
formally unitary contexts, may lead to specific MEP career outcomes, I also
rely upon a coding scheme developed by Lijphart (1999, 2012) for measuring
federalism and decentralization in modern democracies. Values on the decen-
tralization index range from 1 (the most centralized and unitary countries) to

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Table 4.2. Descriptive statistics (Chapter 4 models)

Variable Obs Mean Std. dev. Min Max

No re-election 4803 0.462 0.499 0 1

National MP 3948 0.123 0.329 0 1
National politics 3948 0.168 0.374 0 1
Local elections 4803 1.479 0.692 0 2
Decentralization 4338 2.369 1.463 1 5
Federalism 4803 0.628 0.484 0 1
Seniority 4797 1.579 0.904 1 7
Dropout 4803 0.108 0.311 0 1
EP leader 4803 0.092 0.289 0 1
Committee leader 4803 0.181 0.385 0 1
Age 4803 55.267 10.120 26 90
Female 4803 0.261 0.439 0 1
Christian Democrat 4803 0.359 0.480 0 1
Socialist 4803 0.301 0.459 0 1
Non-inscrit 4801 0.047 0.212 0 1

Source: author’s own calculations

5 (the most federal and decentralized cases), with partial values permitted
between gradations. This measure is particularly attractive, as its coding is
responsive to both constitutional changes over time (the UK and Belgium
both passed major constitutional amendments related to subnational gover-
nance during the period) and accounts for the separate theoretical possibility
posited by H3b that the mechanism at play is not only one of exclusively
formal federalism, but also one of functional decentralization.
All three independent variables were updated for each country at the end of
the seven waves of the EP and vary in accordance with the constitutional
evolution witnessed in a number of EU member states since the 1970s. The
indicators do not show significant degrees of piece-wise correlation, suggest-
ing there is reason to believe that each indicator captures a distinct facet of
either federalism or decentralization. A number of familiar controls were also
included on an individual MEP basis, including seniority (number of terms
already completed by the MEP); dropout MEPs who left the EP prior to the end
of the term; dummies for EP leader and committee leaders (discussed in more
detail in Chapter 5); demographic controls; dummies for party group mem-
bership; and year effects by wave of the EP. Descriptive statistics for all
variables used in the chapter are displayed in Table 4.2.

4.3.2 Results and Analysis

I begin by estimating the effect of federalism and decentralization on likely
outcomes of MEP career behaviour. As all of the dependent variables used in
this sequence are dichotomous, the lack of normal distribution in the data
makes OLS unsuitable for use. Accordingly, I rely on the logit link function,

Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

which allows us to estimate the impact of the independent variables on a

given outcome’s likelihood of occurring. Beta coefficients are displayed in
Table 4.3, including robust standard errors—clustered by individual MEP—
and conventional indicators of statistical significance.
Model (1) displays the effect of federalism and decentralization on an MEP’s
decision to not seek re-election to the EP after a given term. The presence of
local elections in a given country has a significant and dampening effect on an
MEP’s decision not to seek re-election to the EP. In other words, MEPs from
more decentralized contexts are more likely to remain in the EP for multiple terms
of elected office. As local elections are traditionally found in both formally
federal, as well as functionally decentralized countries, this finding offers
some support for both versions of H3.
The main controls also perform in logical ways across model (1) and others:
dropping out positively coincides with the decision not to seek re-election;
older MEPs are shown to be more likely to leave the EP; and committee leaders
are less likely to give up their EP seat. While the effect of time is also considered
in the model via the use of wave fixed effects,5 the models presented in
Table 4.3 refine the theories discussed in Chapter 3. While Chapter 3 found
that MEPs sought re-election at increasingly high rates over time, the models
presented in this chapter make an effort to differentiate not only by time
period, but also by country of origin.
Model (2) considers the likelihood of an MEP not to seek re-election, when
all three variables for federalism and decentralization are tested at once. The
inclusion of Lijphart’s variable for decentralization constrains the sample to
only EU-15 countries (those that were present in the EP before 2004), as well as
Malta. Nonetheless, the number of observations remains high and is fairly
even across time periods, as the 2004–2013 enlargement countries make up
only a small portion of the full dataset. Most variables in model (2) perform in
a similar fashion with the inclusion of the decentralization variable, which is
significant in the expected direction, meaning that MEPs are less likely to leave
the EP when they come from decentralized countries. In sum, both models (1)
and (2) offer support for H3a and H3b.
Models (3) and (4) test the same pair of hypotheses using a different
dependent variable: the decision to run for a national legislative position
following an EP mandate. Recalling the three ‘ideal types’ of MEP career
behaviour discussed at the end of Chapter 1, these models examine those
MEPs who use the EP as a conduit to national legislative office. While the
dependent variable differs from that of models (1) and (2), we once again find
support for the federalism and decentralization hypotheses.
According to model (3), MEPs from formally federal countries seek further
election to national parliaments at lower rates than MEPs from unitary coun-
tries. Model (4) indicates that MEPs from functionally decentralized countries

Table 4.3. The effect of federalism and decentralization on MEP career behaviour

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

Dependent variable: No re-election No re-election National MP National MP National politics National politics

Local elections 0.204*** 0.218*** 0.062 0.062 0.082 0.073

(0.05) (0.06) (0.08) (0.08) (0.07) (0.08)
Federalism 0.086 0.044 0.247** 0.143 0.132 0.019
(0.07) (0.09) (0.11) (0.13) (0.11) (0.12)
Decentralization 0.085*** 0.157*** 0.183***
(0.03) (0.05) (0.04)
Seniority (continuous) 0.065* 0.039 0.232*** 0.249*** 0.257*** 0.260***
(0.04) (0.04) (0.08) (0.08) (0.07) (0.07)
Dropout 3.872*** 3.938*** 1.733*** 1.647*** 2.603*** 2.545***
(0.26) (0.28) (0.12) (0.12) (0.11) (0.12)
Age 0.051*** 0.058*** 0.014** 0.015*** 0.016*** 0.018***
(0.00) (0.00) (0.01) (0.01) (0.01) (0.01)
Female 0.028 0.009 0.039 0.040 0.075 0.102
(0.07) (0.08) (0.12) (0.13) (0.11) (0.12)
EP leader 0.084 0.079 0.124 0.126 0.101 0.099
(0.11) (0.12) (0.20) (0.20) (0.17) (0.17)
Committee leader 0.153* 0.158* 0.133 0.131 0.223* 0.227*
(0.08) (0.09) (0.13) (0.13) (0.12) (0.12)
Christian Democrat 0.128 0.112 0.239* 0.206 0.058 0.043
(0.08) (0.09) (0.13) (0.13) (0.12) (0.13)
Socialist 0.026 0.017 0.250* 0.230* 0.120 0.108
(0.08) (0.09) (0.13) (0.13) (0.13) (0.13)
Non-inscrit 0.239 0.284 0.222 0.216 0.320 0.307
(0.20) (0.21) (0.24) (0.24) (0.25) (0.25)
Constant 2.889*** 3.093*** 1.032*** 0.664* 0.641* 0.265
(0.25) (0.27) (0.35) (0.37) (0.33) (0.35)
EP wave effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
N 4795 4331 3942 3714 3942 3714
Pseudo R^2 0.152 0.152 0.089 0.090 0.178 0.181
AIC 5648.9 5049.1 2717.4 2602.3 2966.5 2809.6
BIC 5765.5 5170.2 2824.2 2714.3 3073.2 2921.6

Note: R. S. E. in parentheses; *p<0.1, **p<0.05, ***p<0.01; models (1)–(2) for MEPs 1979–2014; models (3)–(6) for MEPs 1979–2009; models with the decentralization variable contain only
observations from EU-15 countries and Malta.
Source: author’s own calculations
Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

were also less likely to move to national legislatures after an EP mandate.

While the direct inter-correlation of the Norris variable for formal federalism
and the Lijphart variable for decentralization are relatively low (0.472), it is
true that most countries that receive high values on Lijphart’s scale are also
coded by Norris as federal. This likely explains why the Norris variable loses its
statistical significance in model (4). Seniority and age also have negative
effects on the use of the EP as a springboard, indicating that MEPs are likely
to stay put where they are after a certain point in their career. In other words,
we would expect the incidence of EP exit to be highest during the first elected
term and decrease thereafter.
Models (5) and (6) test for the likelihood of MEPs to pursue positions in
national legislatures, as well as in national executives. The dependent variable
in the models is less restrictive than in the previous two models and includes
MEPs who not only became MPs, but also cabinet ministers or national
executives (viz. prime ministers, presidents, subnational governors). The
models test whether or not federalism and decentralization have an effect
on the use of the EP as a ‘springboard’ not only to domestic legislatures, but
other types of visible national positions. Models (5) and (6) perform similarly
to the national MP models found in columns (3) and (4), suggesting that MEPs
from federal or decentralized contexts are comparatively less likely to use the
EP as a springboard to all kinds of national office. This result is also replicated
when a dependent variable is used that only tests the likelihood of an MEP
seeking national executive office. However, this specification is also less reli-
able, as the number of MEP observations seeking election to a national execu-
tive position is quite low (only 3.69 per cent of the full dataset).
As the logit coefficient is not directly interpretable, Figure 4.1 uses regres-
sion results from model (6) of Table 4.3 to graph the predicted probability that
an MEP will seek a national office, instead of re-election to the EP, at the
conclusion of their term. Figure 4.1 distinguishes between MEPs that failed to
complete their term (dropouts) and MEPs that completed the term (non-
dropouts) and manipulates both sets of MEPs across Lijphart’s full decentral-
ization index, when all other variables are held at their means. The full range
of plotted values exists in the data, and 95 per cent confidence intervals for
dropout and non-dropout MEPs do not intersect at any value along the x-axis.
As reported by the models described above, MEPs are significantly less likely
to seek election to a national office, instead of re-election to the EP, when they
come from a decentralized country. For MEPs that did not exit the EP before
the end of their term, MEPs from highly centralized countries had a 12.63 per cent
likelihood of seeking national office, whilst MEPs from highly decentralized
countries had a 6.56 per cent likelihood of seeking national office. In other words,
MEPs from centralized countries were about twice as likely to seek election to

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Pr(Seek National Legislative Position)


1 2 3 4 5
Decentralization Score

Non-Dropout MEPs Dropout MEPs

Figure 4.1. The effect of decentralization on MEP career behaviour, EU-15 MEPs and
Malta, 1979–2009

national office as those from decentralized ones. For dropout MEPs, however,
the effect is even stronger.
Figure 4.1 indicates that MEPs that failed to complete their mandate were
significantly more likely to leave the EP, in order to seek election to a national
office, than those that completed their terms. Dropout MEPs from highly
centralized countries were expected to seek national election about 64.79
per cent of the time, while dropout MEPs from highly decentralized countries
sought national office about 47.13 per cent of the time. In other words, nearly
two-thirds of dropout MEPs from the most centralized countries left the EP
early in order to seek national election, whereas the majority of dropout
MEPs from decentralized countries simply resigned their seats early and left
elected office.
Both formal federalism and functional decentralization affect the decision
of MEPs not to seek re-election to the EP in similar ways (with more federal and
more decentralized countries demonstrating lower rates of volatility among
their EP delegations). Various indicators for federalism and decentralization
are also robust when we consider the specific outcome of MEPs interested in
seeking a national office after the EP. If we take into account the fact that
almost all of the low valued countries on the Lijphart decentralization scale
were also coded by Norris as formally unitary (with the UK and Portugal being
the major exceptions to this rule), then we can find support for both H3a and
H3b across nearly all of the models displayed above. In other words, the data
confirm that politicians and political parties used to working across distinct
levels of elected representation and functional differentiation are more likely

Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

to treat the EP as ‘just another level’ of governance and not as a farm league for
entry into national politics.

4.3.3 Career Paths across Multiple Levels

So far, the analysis finds evidence of increased volatility for MEP careers in
unitary and centralized countries, offering support for the claims made by H3.
However, the dependent variable is fairly expansive, providing us with only a
rough gauge of the possible outcomes for MEPs to take following a given wave
of parliament. The decision to take one job over another is not always binary,
however, and the full dataset can provide us with comparative information
about the future careers of MEPs across a number of possible venues.
MEPs careers were also coded for the possibility of leaving politics (retire, die,
enter the private sector, etc.); seeking a position within the National Executive
only; seeking a position in another EU institution (like the Commission or
European Court of Justice (ECJ)); as well as seeking re-election to the EP, specif-
ically. Using a multinomial logistic regression specification, we can examine
the relative trade-offs between each of these options, when a specific outcome
is held as a baseline. Because these models each use the Lijphart decentraliza-
tion variable and examine career outcomes that may take more than a year to
resolve, following the end of an EP mandate, the data used in the multinomial
logistic regressions covers only the 1979–2009 period, using MEP observations
from the EU-15 and Malta.
Table 4.4 provides the results for these outcomes, in comparison to the
baseline decision of MEPs who decided to seek re-election. MEPs from federal
and/or decentralized countries are not only less likely than their colleagues
from unitary countries to leave politics (model (1)) rather than seek re-election
to the EP, but they are also less likely to seek National Executive or parliamen-
tary positions (models (2) and (4)). These findings are similar to those of the
previous section, revealing the lower incidence of volatility in federal EP
delegations. Model (3) is clearly the least robust data, as only twenty-two
MEPs moved from the EP to another EU institution (usually the Commission
or the ECJ) between 1979 and 2009. Nonetheless, the significance of the age
variable in model (3) suggests that EU commissioners and members of the ECJ
are not the youngest of politicians—a logical finding, given the respective
weights of these positions.
Table 4.5 provides similarly organized results, but displayed in comparison
to a baseline of those MEPs who decide to seek election to their national
legislatures. The results provide yet another way of supporting the findings
from the principal analysis. MEPs from decentralized systems are significantly
more likely than their unitary state colleagues to seek re-election to the EP
than to seek election to national legislatures (model (4)). A further finding of

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Table 4.4. MEP career outcomes instead of seeking re-election to the EP, 1979–2009

Base: seek (1) (2) (3) (4)


Alternative Leave politics Nat’l Executive EU institution National MP


Local elections 0.165** 0.434*** 0.537 0.077

(0.073) (0.138) (0.394) (0.092)
Federalism 0.237** 0.340 0.574 0.137
(0.115) (0.225) (0.543) (0.141)
Decentralization 0.005 0.233*** 0.023 0.197***
(0.035) (0.087) (0.195) (0.052)
Seniority (continuous) 0.095* 0.119 0.488** 0.218***
(0.053) (0.132) (0.240) (0.083)
Dropout 3.343*** 5.870*** 5.028*** 4.310***
(0.307) (0.339) (0.533) (0.309)
Age 0.100*** 0.030*** 0.048** 0.020***
(0.006) (0.012) (0.022) (0.007)
Female 0.061 0.222 0.937 0.035
(0.106) (0.221) (0.633) (0.134)
EP leader 0.124 0.357 1.498 0.113
(0.147) (0.301) (0.957) (0.211)
Committee leader 0.410*** 0.156 0.345 0.007
(0.11) (0.23) (0.51) (0.15)
Constant 6.653*** 4.396*** 22.404*** 1.892***
(0.385) (0.751) (1.871) (0.436)
Party group effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Time effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes
N 3511 3511 3511 3511
Pseudo R^2 0.194 0.194 0.194 0.194
AIC 6508.003 6508.003 6508.003 6508.003
BIC 6951.786 6951.786 6951.786 6951.786

Note: R. S. E. in parentheses; *p<0.1, **p<0.05, ***p<0.01.

Source: author’s own calculations

interest is that MEPs from formally federal countries would rather run for
national executive postings than national parliamentary ones, but the sign
is reversed when countries with subnational elections are considered (both in
model (2)). This particular finding is probably driven by the small set of
relevant cases in both of these categories and should be interpreted with
caution. Nonetheless, Table 4.5 does provide some additional support for
our view of federalism and its effect on the broader career paths of MEPs.

4.4 Conclusions

Chapter 3 examined the evolution of the European Parliament as a legislative

institution and the subsequent stabilization of its membership. In Field of
Dreams, an American movie about a headstrong Iowa farmer’s decision to

Federalism and Party Gatekeeping

Table 4.5. MEP career outcomes instead of seeking election to National Legislature,

Base: seek national MP (1) (2) (3) (4)

Alternative outcome: Leave politics Nat’l Executive EU institution EP re-election

Local elections 0.087 0.357*** 0.460 0.077

(0.096) (0.136) (0.390) (0.092)
Federalism 0.100 0.477** 0.437 0.137
(0.148) (0.226) (0.544) (0.141)
Decentralization 0.193*** 0.035 0.174 0.197***
(0.055) (0.091) (0.198) (0.052)
Seniority (continuous) 0.314*** 0.100 0.706*** 0.218***
(0.084) (0.139) (0.242) (0.083)
Dropout 0.967*** 1.560*** 0.718 4.310***
(0.147) (0.210) (0.477) (0.309)
Age 0.080*** 0.010 0.027 0.020***
(0.008) (0.011) (0.022) (0.007)
Female 0.097 0.186 0.972 0.035
(0.150) (0.229) (0.633) (0.134)
EP Leader 0.011 0.470 1.385 0.113
(0.218) (0.315) (0.956) (0.210)
Committee leader 0.417*** 0.149 0.338 0.007
(0.159) (0.226) (0.517) (0.143)
Constant 6.653*** 4.396*** 22.404*** 1.892***
(0.385) (0.751) (1.871) (0.436)
Party group effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Time effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes
N 3511 3511 3511 3511
Pseudo R^2 0.194 0.194 0.194 0.194
AIC 6508.003 6508.003 6508.003 6508.003
BIC 6951.786 6951.786 6951.786 6951.786

Note: R. S. E. in parentheses; *p<0.1, **p<0.05, ***p<0.01.

Source: author’s own calculations

build a professional baseball stadium in the middle of a rural cornfield, Kevin

Costner’s character argues, ‘If we build it, they will come’. Along similar lines,
Chapter 3 argued that, ‘If you improve it, they will stay longer’. This present
chapter has examined a similar question—what predicts the long-run stability
of membership in the EP?—but answers it using a very different logic, looking
instead to differences in the constituent member states of the EP.
I argue that federal and decentralized countries are more likely than their
unitary or centralized counterparts to have stable MEP delegations. This chap-
ter draws a causal link between formal federalism, functional decentralization,
and the organization of national political parties across multiple levels of
government. It also hypothesizes that both decentralization and federalism
will positively effect stable EP membership, albeit via distinct causal mechanisms.
Using data from all waves of the EP and its full membership, I find support for
both variants of the hypothesis. I have used multiple indicators to measure
federalism and decentralization, which is itself a reflection of the multiple and

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

inter-related concepts of regional autonomy, subnational authority, and pol-

itical organization that continue to pique the interest of political scientists.
The connection between federalism and career specialization is another
important piece of the puzzle in our exploration of MEP career behaviour.
However, why does it matter? In Chapter 5, I examine the EP’s internal balance
of power via the assignment of legislative committee reports. The analysis
reveals the benefit of experience and seniority within the institution—
experience that can only come with MEPs who are committed to staying in
the EP for multiple terms of service. As I explain in Chapter 5, for national
political parties to achieve desired policy goals within the EP, they must adapt
candidate recruitment and selection processes to benefit from this burgeoning
EP seniority system.
As the contrasting French and German case studies in Chapters 6 and 7 will
then show, political parties who prevent MEPs from achieving seniority in the
EP—constantly shuffling them between national and European office—stand
to lose the most in the allocation of committee reports, particularly when
politicians with greater levels of experience in EP negotiations are ready and
available to do the job. For the moment, the present chapter is content to explain
one important source of variation in MEP term length—the effect of federalism
and decentralization on the stability of MEP careers. For the EP to become the
‘only game in town’ and not a dreary second order legislature, it is first incum-
bent upon the national political parties to recognize which of their politicians
are best suited for EP service. However, accomplishing this goal may come at the
expense of age-old national differences in the treatment of multi-level politics.


1. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.

2. MEP, personal interview, 8 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.
3. MEP, personal interview, 8 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.
4. MP, personal interview, 15 November 2011, Assemblée nationale, Paris.
5. Both ‘time effect’ dummies for each wave of the EP were used, as well as a count
variable for the six waves of the EP. Results did not vary significantly across specifi-
cations. All reported models use time fixed effects, by EP wave.


Rapporteur Selection and Internal


I have thus far argued that the career behaviour of MEPs has become some-
what of an institution itself, developed into a set of spoken and unspoken
rules for professional advancement that are a reaction to both the European
Parliament’s internal professionalization as well as its relationship with other
national and international institutions. However, MEP career behaviour is not
only related to questions of external advancement—the decision to build
one’s career at the European level or to use one’s time in the EP as a stepping
stone towards further national office—but rather, MEP career behaviour also
entails a system of professional advancement within the EP’s internal struc-
ture, as careerist MEPs often win the spoils of EP legislating power.
MEPs have the opportunity to seek a number of positions in building their
political careers at the EU level. As the Parliament has expanded its legislative
purview, numerous elected and appointed possibilities from internal advance-
ment have arisen. Administratively, an elected president leads the EP, along
with a set of vice presidents and a College of Quaestors. Within the trans-
national party groups, group coordinators steer positions on legislative com-
mittees, and party group leaders attempt to unify the diverse national
backgrounds present within each political bloc. Finally, a highly developed
system of standing committees is replete with its own sets of chairs, vice
chairs, and rapporteurs. Although each office carries with it a varying degree
of internal and external prestige, few individual MEPs have as much direct
sway over the legislative process as the committee rapporteur.
This chapter examines the selection and assignment of committee rappor-
teurs in the EP during the legislature’s first seven directly elected sessions,
between 1979 and 2014.1 In doing so, I argue that rapporteurships have
become an increasingly valuable asset for both highly educated and experi-
enced MEPs, who represent only a portion of the legislature’s full personnel.
Moreover, the tendency to award committee reports to such an elite clique of
Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

legislators has increased dramatically since the initiation of the EP’s legislative
co-decision powers on Commission proposals, alongside the Council of
Ministers, which might suggest that although the EP has augmented its
power vis-à-vis the other EU institutions, this power has found itself concen-
trated in the hands of a few. Normatively, this finding is perhaps troubling for
those who view the EP as a representative balm to the EU’s widely perceived
democratic deficit. However, the consolidation of committee rapporteurships
amongst a handful of senior and educated parliamentarians also offers empir-
ical support for claims made about the EP’s heightened level of legislative
professionalization in recent years.
I begin with a brief discussion of how legislative rapporteurships are tradi-
tionally awarded within EP committees, noting the importance of the office of
rapporteur for both the crafting of legislation and the raising of the EP’s profile
within the broader EU legislative process. I then present a testable theory for
rapporteur assignment, based primarily upon the criteria of education and
seniority, which are evaluated in the third section. The concluding section
summarizes my empirical findings and places the results within the broader
context of the legislature’s professionalization.

5.1 The Process of Committee Report Allocation

In each legislative committee, the transnational party groups begin an EP

session with a share of ‘points’, set in proportion to their relative size on the
committee and in the EP, which they then use to ‘buy’ legislative dossiers that
have been referred to the committee. Once the successful party group has been
awarded a dossier, the group coordinator—an MEP on the committee who
serves as the party group’s whip for legislative positions—decides in conjunc-
tion with the committee leadership which MEP from his or her group will
serve as the rapporteur, who is the individual responsible for steering the piece
of legislation through the committee revision stage. ‘Shadow’ rapporteurs are
also named from all other party groups, who collaborate and negotiate with
the rapporteur in the drafting of the committee’s policy recommendations.
This typically assures smooth passage for the report when it is voted upon by
the full committee, which must take place before the committee advances its
recommendations to the full EP plenary.
As extensive work by Ringe (2010), Yordanova (2013), and others has
shown, reports that are upheld at the committee stage are rarely defeated in
plenary votes. Thus, the rapporteur has the unusual advantage of being able to
craft the entire body’s position on a proposed piece of EU legislation in a
highly individual capacity. In a legislature whose membership approaches
nearly 800 voices and favours broad-based consensus, it is truly remarkable

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

that one individual legislator might contain such personal power. It is there-
fore of major importance to ascertain which sets of factors most regularly
determine a rapporteur’s selection. While numerous scholars have already
explored the inner workings of report allocation, they have each done so in
a way that considers either limited time periods or select committees, which
has thus far led mostly to specific and conditional conclusions.

5.1.1 Rapporteurs as Ideological Moderates

Lindberg (2008) offers the clearest picture of the committee report allocation
process in his case study on the controversial services directive debate, which
was taken up by the Legal Affairs and Internal Market Committee (JURI).
A highly contentious and politically divisive issue dealing with market liber-
alization as a part of the Lisbon agenda, the EP’s opinion on the proposed
directive was of major importance to the legislature’s constituent party
groups, as well as precedent setting for the EP on the whole. Lindberg’s
account demonstrates the internal bargaining at play within JURI, showing
that the choice of Evelyne Gebhardt—a German member of the social demo-
cratic bloc (S&D)—to serve as rapporteur was the result of her membership in
one of the major party blocs, her moderate voting record in both her national
and EP party group, and her membership in the important German delegation
Ideological moderation is important, particularly on sensitive political
topics, as rapporteurs are constrained by both their party group’s policy and
the need to build broader consensus with the shadow rapporteurs from other
groups. Without this consensus, the report is less likely to pass the committee
stage and receive a plenary vote. Evidence from the plenary vote on the
directive, once Gebhardt’s report had passed her committee, suggests that
moderation was an important factor in her selection, as the plenary vote relied
on large portions of both the S&D and centre-right EPP blocs to support the
controversial measure. Had she taken a more narrowly partisan position
within the committee, it is unlikely that the directive would have received
enough votes from the EPP group to pass in plenary.
The case study offers one possible dimension of rapporteur assignment;
however, such divisive and sensitive decisions represent a small fraction of
the legislation considered by the EP. Thus, while rapporteur assignment may
be desirable for an MEP’s individual prestige and that of the party that he or
she serves, it is unlikely to be a contentious political decision for the commit-
tee leadership under most circumstances. The services directive is a useful
example for such a high-level report, but generalizing only from Gebhardt’s
selection exposes scholars of legislative politics to the possibility of commit-
ting an atomistic fallacy.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Lindberg’s work is far from the only instance in which scholars have been
quick to jump to complex conclusions about the balance of an MEP’s notori-
ety, voting record, or political connections in the process of rapporteur
assignment.2 The literature has thus resulted in a general view of rapporteurs
as a sort of political token, selected for their social and political connectedness,
ideological position, or moderate voting record. The problem with such a view
is that the data are routinely taken from either well-known cases or from
heavily divided committees. The findings are thus open to a strong selection
bias. Our understanding of rapporteur assignment may have thus far missed
the forest for the trees.

5.1.2 Timing and Importance of Committee Reports

One specific element that has been routinely overlooked in the study of
rapporteur assignment is the increased importance of the reports themselves.3
Since the initiation of the co-decision legislative procedure in the early
1990s—whereby the EP can effectively block the Council of Minister’s opin-
ion on EU legislation—the work of the rapporteur has greatly augmented in its
importance. However, it may also be the case that co-decision limits the extent
to which an MEP is individually able to shape the course of legislation. As
reports become more valuable to the EP and the outcome of a report matters
more to the EP’s standing vis-à-vis the Council, rapporteurs may be confined
to taking moderate and consensus positions.
This may suggest the increasing need for a political moderate to serve as
rapporteur, but the point system used by committees still ensures a balance of
reports among all ideological backgrounds. Further, even if an individual with
a less moderate record is awarded the report, the proposal itself is unlikely to
pass the committee stage if the report reflects only an outlying member’s
individual views. More important than a moderate voting record, MEPs
must possess the individual personal qualities needed to work together with
people of different political stripes.
The advent of co-decision has granted rapporteurs a privileged role in inter-
institutional debates with the Council under the trilogue system. In the
trilogue, rapporteurs are invited to participate in privileged discussions about
the EP’s stance on legislation with key members of the Commission and the
Council before the EP legislative committee takes a vote on the report.
The trilogue is an effort to reach common ground between the institutions
before formal decisions are taken. Before a trilogue can take place, however,
rapporteurs must be aware of both their shadows’ positions, but also that of
the other EU institutions. Ideally, all sides reach an informal consensus before
the report is even circulated for a committee or plenary vote. As such, the
rapporteur is both a point person for committee work and an important

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

stakeholder for the EP on the whole.4 This not only supports the increased
importance of rapporteur selection under co-decision, but also personal qual-
ities embodied by the rapporteur.

5.2 A Theory of Education and Experience

Although most scholars would agree that rapporteurships are important to

accrue and that their assignment is often contested, there is less agreement on
how personal characteristics may matter in the selection of a rapporteur.
I suggest two particularly important determinants: an MEP’s level of education
and their seniority within the EP. While previous work has attempted to link
specific instances of expertise on select committees (i.e. does the marine
biologist always get the fisheries report?), the use of an MEP’s general level
of education is also likely to provide us with more generalizable insights on
member aptitude, even when technical expertise is less relevant. Similarly,
scholars have posited the likely importance of seniority in rapporteur assign-
ment in a legislature with the institutional complexities of the EP; yet, the lack
of longitudinal data on report allocation has hindered the ability of scholars to
rigorously test the veracity of these claims.
The course of European integration favours two trends in the creation of EU
policy—specialization and complexity. One need not stray too far from popu-
lar discourse in order to discover debates on the EU’s view of correctly shaped
bananas, the purity of commercially available beverages, and the particular-
ities of bond swaps across the common currency. The EU, led notably by the
Commission, has existed from the start as a major source of regulation for
Europeans, stemming predominantly from the regulatory and stability needs
of the single market project (Caporaso 1998; McGowan and Wallace 1996;
Majone 1994).
However, as the competency of the EU has expanded and the weight of
decision making has extended to other EU institutions, the role of the EU as a
specialist has continued in these new institutional forms. So too, then, has the
EP witnessed the growing need to comment on the passage of legislation in a
sophisticated and technically expert fashion. Whereas the EP initially existed
to offer a popular voice in advising the course of Commission proposals and
their passage through the Council, the current system envisions the EP in a
decision-making capacity, with a strong role in the crafting of legislation.
The trend towards EU policy specialization has expanded the EP’s commit-
tee system and favoured the development of a strong and expert rapporteur.
I briefly discuss the specialization and complexity inherent to the EP’s strong
committee system, before demonstrating the effect of this mode of committee
power on rapporteur allocation. In a later section, I consider the notion that as

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

reports gain additional legislative importance under co-decision, the tendency

to award them to an educated and experienced set of MEPs is amplified.

5.2.1 Specialization and Complexity in the European Parliament

As detailed by McElroy (2008), the number of standing committees has bal-
looned over time, increasing to more than twenty permanent committees at
the end of the 2004–2009 session. Unlike in many of Europe’s national
parliaments, however, this relatively high number of standing committees
permits organization around a set of fairly specific legislative topics: fisheries;
international trade; and women’s rights, to name a few. Much like in the
US Congress, committees vary in their level of prestige, with ambitious
MEPs seeking seats on the desirable environment, industry and research,
or economic and monetary committees, and newly elected MEPs filling
the remaining spots on less popular committees, such as regional policy or
culture (McElroy 2008: 362–6). Unlike in the US Congress, however, commit-
tee assignment, leadership, and rapporteurship allocation are not as rigidly
limited to seniority rules, but are left mostly to the discretion of EP leaders.
Developments in the EP’s powerful committee system are viewable in light
of both the parliament’s form and function. With nearly 800 members, the EP
is one of the world’s largest democratic legislatures, necessitating smaller
working units in order to reach consensus on the wide range of legislation
passed in plenary sessions. However, the large number of committees also
relates to the diverse array of topics addressed by the EU. Much in the same
way that the course of European integration has led the Commission to
multiply the number of commissioners and directorates general, the special-
ization of the EP’s standing committee system is testament to both the need
for efficiency gains in the legislative process and to the wide variety of subjects
covered within the parliament.
As the committee system moves in favour of topic specialization and organ-
izational complexity, so too have individual MEPs found themselves in
increasingly specialist roles within the policy-making process. Institutionally,
this specialization is reflected in the emerging power of the committee rap-
porteur. While the literature suggests that rapporteur selection relies heavily
on identifying MEPs with a particular political profile, it is also worth noting
the logic of rapporteurs as both topic specialists and drafters of consensus
legislation. As one MEP put it, the rapporteur system allows for a balanced and
focused view to emerge over time, in direct opposition to national parlia-
ments, who often ‘legislate as a kneejerk reaction to a crisis’.5 To spearhead
the crafting of such consensus proposals, a degree of education and experience
in the unique political environment of the EP is indispensable.

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

5.2.2 Education and Expertise

An MEP’s level of education should matter in the drafting of committee
reports. In a recent interview, one MEP explained that reports on harmful
chemical waste reduction in the environment committee, on which she
served, were frequently allocated based upon the merits of the professional
training held by a number of scientists sitting on the committee.6 Similarly,
another MEP noted that his reputed policy-making background in public
transit issues, developed while serving as the mayor of a regional hub, was
the impetus behind his frequent participation on transportation committee
reports.7 Moreover, a former German MEP pointed to her legal background as
important to her leadership in border security issues.8 Even a Eurosceptic MEP,
usually hostile to the aiding and abetting of productive work in the Parlia-
ment, once served as rapporteur on changing the nomenclature of a particular
species of fish, lending his expertise as a biologist.9
In each of these instances, MEPs called upon professional and technical
expertise in science, policy making, and constitutional law in order to form
the EP’s opinion. Although the MEPs each have substantively different pro-
fessional backgrounds that contributed to their selection as rapporteur, they
each possess advanced education, commensurate with the expertise required
to make policy in their individual domains. I thus propose that MEPs with
higher levels of education will be more likely to serve as rapporteur.
In some cases, education is a clear proxy for substantive expertise in a given
domain. A graduate degree in biology matters in the naming of fish, just as a
chemist is best equipped to comment on the dangers of chemical waste.
Analysing education from a more general perspective, as opposed to trying
to connect technicians with previous professional expertise, allows us to apply
the theory across both different time periods and committees. However,
education may not always be a matter of technical knowhow. The effects of
education, when considered at a more general level, imply the addition of a
number of personal qualities, which may be essential in the brokering of
consensus policy positions.
It is exactly this secondary connotation of advanced education that is
illustrated by an interview with a Swedish MEP, who felt that his reputed
ability to compromise and listen to the opinions of his colleagues had been
decisive in his having been chosen for a number of reports.10 While he would
not credit himself as being a technical expert on the financial decisions that he
led, he nonetheless pointed to his history of high-level management in the
private sector, and the education background that came with it, as an impor-
tant determinant of his ability to problem solve and collaborate with other
deputies. The value of an MBA is not only measured in the imparting of

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

technical wisdom, but in the cementing of the very interpersonal and leader-
ship skills needed to broker a consensus political view.
Naturally, in an advanced economy such as Sweden’s, experience in the
boardroom correlates with a high degree of education. I expect such MEPs
with white-collar backgrounds—lawyers, CEOs, or captains of industry—to
typically possess either university or postgraduate training. I expect, further-
more, that an MEP’s level of education is easily noticeable. Beyond a visible
credential, published on a CV or a campaign website, education should be
noticeable in the way that politicians debate policy, write questions, or simply
construct their interpersonal networks.
Not simply a useful heuristic for the decision of the group coordinator, the
political psychology literature suggests that higher levels of education corre-
late with lower levels of dogmatism, and thus the ability to reach broad
consensus with other views (see, for example, Golebiowska 1995). In the
democratization literature, liberal democracies are shown to have the most
educated leaders, as citizens judge the value of their leaders based upon their
educational background (Besley and Reynal-Querol 2011). Education likely
also correlates with the presence of linguistic skills needed to work in a
multilingual environment like the EP. It is notable that almost every MEP
interviewed pointed to their extensive and diverse foreign language skills as
crucially important to their success as a rapporteur. Particularly as the brunt of
the rapporteur’s work moves towards coordinating with both committee
shadows and members of the trilogue, the ability to work without the assis-
tance of translators cannot be understated. MEPs able to work in multiple
languages are undoubtedly more likely to come from educated backgrounds.
Higher levels of education, when measured in a generalizable way, can thus
proxy for the presence of specific technical expertise, as well as for the
increased likelihood of successful professional and interpersonal skills needed
for consensus politics. The key, of course, is to devise a coding system that is
general enough to match the various education backgrounds present in the
EU member states, while still specific enough to differentiate between differ-
ent groups of MEPs.
Devising such a variable is actually quite possible in Europe, where differ-
ences in educational background vary in similar ways across different coun-
tries. Most education systems in Europe divide secondary education between
college-preparatory and technical training, and higher education is clearly
separable between undergraduate and graduate degrees. While nomenclature
varies by country (although less so, since the initiation of the Bologna process
for the standardization of higher education within the EU), if educational
background and expertise matter for the allocation of rapporteurships, then
an MEP’s education should be easily recognizable. However, another indicator

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

of interpersonal skills is also likely to be crucial in the rapporteurship alloca-

tion process—an MEP’s experience within the EP itself.

5.2.3 Seniority and Institutional Memory

I also expect that policy-making experience, particularly within the EP, should
matter in the assignment of rapporteurs. Academics cannot simply parachute
into elected office and expect to make drastic changes to policy (as much as
we may sometimes like to think it possible!). Therefore, education must also
be accompanied by previous experience in elected office. As the EP follows a
legislative model that is unlike most national European parliaments and may
thus be unfamiliar to newly elected politicians, report allocations may be
expected to occur along a functional seniority basis within the EP.
Numerous MEPs interviewed mentioned that they spent their first few years
in the EP in a state of confusion—learning the ropes, making connections,
and finding their way in the massive and diverse legislature. However, long-
serving MEPs were able to find a return on their personal capital. A veteran
French MEP illustrated this point nicely, when she pointed out that her ability
to gain a major report on the financial crisis had been cleverly secured by her
office, in exchange for her crucial support of another MEP’s nomination to the
EP Bureau. Essentially, when she wanted an important report, she knew how
to get it.11 Without her highly developed interpersonal network and knowl-
edge of the bargaining processes at stake in a report’s assignment, she would
have been far less likely to get the report. The connectedness of certain MEPs
and its importance should not be underestimated. After meeting with a high-
ranking administrator from a major party group and asking if he could help in
securing interviews with a few of his colleagues, a few phone calls made by his
office landed me a half dozen interviews that same afternoon.12 Connections
matter in the EP, and they only come with time.
Multiple MEPs described the first time that they received a report. One
conservative French MEP summarizes this experience nicely. In her first
few months in office, she was unknown to most of her colleagues. However,
over time she was able to contribute positively in her committee’s work:
submitting questions to the Council as a means of oversight; suggesting
amendments to the rapporteurs; and finally obtaining a shadow report dos-
sier. The next time the EPP obtained a report on her committee, she was
chosen.13 Another conservative French MEP tells a similar story, explaining
that most MEPs have to put a lot of preparatory work into receiving their
first report. If it goes well, they more easily obtain reports the next time.14
Credibility and reputations are not earned overnight. Thus, a strong bias in
favour of MEPs with lengthy experience in the EP is likely to be apparent in
the balance of rapporteurship allocation.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

5.2.4 Hypotheses and Alternate Explanations

The remainder of the chapter tests the following hypotheses:

H4: MEPs with higher levels of education will accrue more committee reports.
H5: Senior MEPs will accrue more committee reports.
H6: Education and seniority both matter more in the assignment of rapporteurships since
the initiation of EP co-decision powers.

Beyond these formal hypotheses, we might expect a host of other personal

and professional characteristics to matter. For example, we can easily test
Høyland’s (2006) assertion that MEPs from national governing parties receive
more reports. Following the logic of Cox and McCubbins (2007), we might
also expect MEP leaders—whether within the committee system or within the
EP more generally—to receive more reports. My research design considers
these additional explanations, as well as a host of demographic controls, as
also potentially determinant in report allocation. I return to these alternate
and additional explanations for report allocation later on in the analysis
section. For now, I move to discuss my data and method for testing the
education and experience hypotheses.

5.3 Testing the Effects of Education and Seniority

on Report Allocation

To test for the effect of education and seniority on report allocation, I use
individual-level data for MEPs in each completed wave of the EP since the
initiation of direct elections, therefore from 1979 to 2014. Sources include
Høyland et al.’s (2009) tool for extracting publicly available data from the EP
website, as well as a variety of MEP records kept by the EP archives in Luxem-
bourg, national political archives, and research library holdings. The unit of
analysis is individual MEP mandate, with a total of 4,803 observations in the
full sample, across all seven completed waves of the Parliament. Unlike in
previous work on rapporteur allocation, the dataset is fully comprehensive,
including all MEPs in all completed EP settings. Missing data, although rela-
tively minimal (only 155 out of 4,803 observations are not included in the
regression analysis), is distributed randomly across MEP country delegation
and time periods and typically results from the lack of available data on MEP
education. In most cases, these observations are for MEPs who were elected to
the EP but chose not to remain there for long, or from MEPs who served as
replacements for a brief period.

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

5.3.1 Variables and Coding

The dependent variable throughout the empirical analysis is Reports, which is
measured as the number of reports allocated to an individual MEP over the
course of the elected five-year mandate. In the principal multivariate analysis,
the count is agnostic about the legislative mode under which the report was
decided (co-decision, consultation, and so forth). In later sections of the
chapter, further analyses and robustness checks differentiate between these
legislative modes, and thus their relative legislative importance.
The main independent variables of interest are education and seniority.
Education is the four-point index for the highest degree earned. Those MEP’s
whose educational background ended with a technical or vocational degree
were coded as 1, while those who completed a university-preparatory second-
ary school curriculum were coded with 2. Politicians with undergraduate
training at a university were coded with 3, while those having obtained a
postgraduate degree (masters, PhD, or equivalent) were assigned a 4. Seniority
is measured both as a dummy variable, coded positively for MEPs having
already served a previous term in the EP, as well as a count variable for the
total number of terms already completed in the EP by the individual. The
differences in this measure are clearly indicated in the various results tables.
A number of control variables were also collected, in order to account for
additional explanations and potential spuriousness. Committee leader is a
dummy variable for MEPs holding a committee chairmanship or vice chair-
manship during a given term. Because committee chairs often end up serving
as rapporteur on ‘leftover’ reports that are less politically important, I expect
MEPs that served as a committee leader during a particular term will have
written a disproportionately high number of reports. EP leader captures those
MEPs with an administrative position in the EP (president, member of the
Bureau, quaestor, etc.), who may benefit from their visible leadership position,
particularly when a report is likely to be contentious with other EU institu-
tions. Party in government is a dummy variable for MEPs hailing from a national
party that served in national government during the evaluated term.
Dummy variables are also assigned based upon an MEP’s party groups to
account for the possibility that fringe and extremist MEPs may receive fewer
reports and include fixed effects for Christian democrat; socialist; liberal; com-
munist; green/regionalist; conservative; Eurosceptic; and non-inscrit political
groups (currently known as the EPP; S&D; ALDE; GUE/NGL; EFA/Greens;
ECR; EFD; and NI, respectively). Whereas the grand coalition between the
centre-right and centre-left political groups, as well as the distribution of more
points to larger groups in the committee, might favour MEPs from Christian
democratic or socialist backgrounds, unaffiliated NI members are likely to be
disadvantaged in rapporteurship assignment. Additional variables also

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

consider MEPs choosing not to complete their term (dropout); those who
sought further re-election to the EP at the term’s conclusion; gender; MEPs
from member states having just joined the EU in the current wave; and MEPs’
age at the end of the current session.15

5.3.2 The Data

A cursory examination of the data reveals that education is likely to correlate
with rapporteurships. Table 5.1 shows the average number of reports com-
pleted by an MEP per term, sorted according to their level of education. The
differences are particularly noticeable in later terms, such as EP 5 (1999–2004),
where MEPs holding postgraduate degrees received almost twice as many
reports as MEPs with a vocational or technical background. If education
matters more as the EP specializes, particularly under the introduction of
co-decision with the Council after EP 4, then it is logical to see such evidence
of a growing divide in rapporteurship allocation along education lines. How-
ever, it is also important to explore the changing levels of MEP education over
time, in order to account for the possibility of a maturation effect in the
sample. In other words, if more educated MEPs are completing more reports
later in the sample, but almost all MEPs are highly educated, then the theory is
not as robust.
Table 5.2 examines the change in MEP levels of education over time. The
percentage of MEPs without a college degree (1 or 2 on the coding scheme) has
indeed dropped from more than a quarter of MEPs in the first session,
1979–1984, to just over 14 per cent in the most recent wave, 2009–2014.
However, the number of MEPs with undergraduate degrees has remained
fairly stable throughout the sample (at about 40 per cent). The main difference
is in the postgraduate category, where the proportion of MEPs with an
advanced degree has expanded by over 10 per cent since the first wave of
the EP, effectively shifting the balance of MEPs towards a more educated
This pattern is not terribly surprising and reflects the broader societal trends
in the professionalization of politicians, as well as Europeans, more generally.
However, we would think that if MEPs are more educated today than yester-
day, this might make differences in education less meaningful for report
allocation. Of course, these assumptions should be considered with the full
host of available controls. Thus, I now move on to test for a correlation
between education, experience, and report allocation using a multivariate
regression framework. Table 5.3 shows the descriptive statistics used in these
models across the full sample.

Table 5.1. Average number of committee reports per term

Highest EP 1 EP 2 EP 3 EP 4 EP 5 EP 6 EP7 Total

1979–1984 1984–1989 1989–1994 1994–1999 1999–2004 2004–2009 2009–2014 1979–2014

Technical 2.20 2.38 2.89 2.57 1.63 1.32 1.89 2.17

Secondary 1.42 1.87 2.65 1.56 1.58 1.42 2.74 1.88
Bachelor’s 2.50 2.62 3.04 2.78 3.17 2.49 2.49 2.72
Postgraduate 2.88 3.07 4.37 3.61 3.76 2.89 2.79 3.92
All MEPs 2.47 2.56 3.47 3.00 3.15 2.50 2.56 2.80

Source: author’s own calculations

Table 5.2. Highest degree completed (% MEPs)

Highest EP 1 EP 2 EP 3 EP 4 EP 5 EP 6 EP 7 Total
1979–1984 1984–1989 1989–1994 1994–1999 1999–2004 2004–2009 2009–2014 1979–2014

Technical 19.65 14.93 14.18 13.43 10.27 7.45 8.68 11.85

Secondary 7.95 9.89 7.35 5.37 5.79 5.96 4.52 6.41
Bachelor’s 41.28 41.79 39.83 43.43 45.30 42.89 40.55 42.23
Postgraduate 31.13 33.39 38.63 37.76 38.64 43.69 46.25 39.50

Source: author’s own calculations

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Table 5.3. Descriptive statistics (Chapter 5 models)

Variable Obs Mean Std. dev. Min Max

Reports 4797 2.802 4.105 0 55

Education 4648 3.094 0.962 1 4
Terms served 4797 1.579 0.904 1 7
Seniority 4803 0.380 0.485 0 1
EP leader 4803 0.092 0.289 0 1
Comm. leader 4803 0.181 0.385 0 1
Sought re-elect 4803 0.538 0.499 0 1
Dropout 4803 0.108 0.311 0 1
Party in gov’t 4803 0.463 0.499 0 1
Age 4803 55.267 10.120 26 90
Female 4803 0.261 0.439 0 1
New M-S 4803 0.087 0.282 0 1

Source: author’s own calculations

5.3.3 Modelling Choices

Because the dependent variable is not normally distributed, I estimate the
models using a negative binomial specification. Roughly half of the observa-
tions received no reports, with a steady decline in frequency outward to the
maximum of 55. The negative binomial estimation allows me to fit the model
more efficiently to the distribution of the data. As the alpha term is greater
than zero in the estimated models, I choose this technique over the Poisson
estimator. For more information on these models, see Land et al. (1996). Pois-
son would not be appropriate in this case, because the dependent variable has
a high rate of dispersion from zero.
I also consider the use of a Zero-Inflated Negative Binomial regression
(ZINB); however, I do not choose this estimation technique, as the selection
effect for rapporteurship allocations is not anticipated to occur from multiple
data-generating processes. Although the incidence of zeros in the data is quite
high, we do not assume that the difference between receiving one report
versus no reports is theoretically distinct from receiving one versus many
reports. The ZINB model would imply that the theoretical difference between
an MEP receiving one versus no reports is qualitatively different from an MEP
receiving one versus fifty reports. Although fewer MEPs receive many reports,
I expect that all MEPs are theoretically able to serve as rapporteur, depending
upon their education background and level of experience. This choice is thus
informed by theory and is in line with the statistical recommendations of Yau
et al. (2003).

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

5.4 Results and Analysis

I begin by estimating a set of seven separate regressions for each completed

wave of the EP, using robust clustered error terms by country. This allows me
to witness the changing effect of individual background on report allocation
as the EP matures over time. Table 5.4 displays these results.
The results indicate a striking and dynamic story for the influence of MEPs
over the course of the EP’s development. MEP education is shown to be a
strong and significant predictor for report allocation in each session, which
offers support for H4. With regard to H5 and the level of MEP experience,
MEPs having served in previous terms of the EP are advantaged in the process
of report allocation in most terms, indicating the importance of interpersonal
networks, as well as institutional knowledge.
As the EP has expanded its membership, other signifiers—such as EP and
committee leaders—have seemingly become more important predictors of
report allocation, perhaps as a way of distinguishing those MEPs with addi-
tional stature from a growing sea of other politicians. Unsurprisingly, MEPs
who select out of the EP before the term concludes (the dropout variable)
receive fewer reports, while MEPs who sought re-election for a following term
were advantaged. Both of these variables proxy the sorts of self-selection that
we might expect from MEPs who are professionally invested in their EP-level
work. MEPs from new member states having just joined the EP are routinely
disadvantaged in report allocation during their first terms, indicating the
presence of a double hurdle for MEPs from new member states to clear—not
only must they prove themselves, but their country delegations must also
make an impression. Returning to H5, however, why has education become
an increasingly significant predictor?
One reason that education may have become an increasingly significant
predictor of reports may lie in the changing distribution of the data. Recon-
sider Table 5.2, which also displays the distribution of highest degree earned
by MEPs, separated by each wave of parliament. As previously discussed, a
clear pattern emerges, indicating a growing proportion of highly educated
MEPs in each successive wave. By the sixth wave of the EP, postgraduate
degree holders achieve a plurality for the first time in the data. While this
may seem to make the connection between reports received and level of
education more mathematically favourable, piece-wise correlation coefficients
between reports and education remain surprisingly constant over time (out-
side of EP5) and suggest that an intervening variable, or set of variables, may
cause education to have become more important in recent years.

92 Table 5.4. The effect of education and seniority on report allocation (cross-sectional)

EP 1 EP 2 EP 3 EP 4 EP 5 EP 6 EP 7

1979–1984 1984–1989 1989–1994 1994–1999 1999–2004 2004–2009 2009–2014

Education 0.092* 0.110* 0.160*** 0.176*** 0.285*** 0.312*** 0.107**

(0.054) (0.057) (0.050) (0.041) (0.048) (0.052) (0.051)
Seniority (continuous) 0.208 0.200* 0.195** 0.131 0.499*** 0.381***
(0.128) (0.109) (0.085) (0.085) (0.101) (0.096)
EP leader 0.467* 0.073 0.048 0.039 0.288*** 0.433*** 0.138
(0.271) (0.228) (0.221) (0.168) (0.107) (0.117) (0.150)
Committee leader 0.173 0.723*** 0.584*** 0.460*** 0.702*** 0.897*** 0.709***
(0.138) (0.127) (0.118) (0.091) (0.100) (0.105) (0.114)
Seek re-election 0.246* 0.188 0.073 0.105 0.353*** 0.338*** 0.315***
(0.134) (0.133) (0.113) (0.085) (0.092) (0.093) (0.089)
Dropout 1.013*** 1.315*** 1.147*** 0.921*** 0.483*** 0.507*** 0.785***
(0.219) (0.221) (0.186) (0.178) (0.156) (0.151) (0.280)
Party in nat’l gov’t 0.273* 0.027 0.196 0.018 0.005 0.111 0.182*
(0.158) (0.132) (0.121) (0.096) (0.089) (0.095) (0.104)
Age 0.016** 0.013** 0.011* 0.002 0.001 0.002 0.007*
(0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.005) (0.005) (0.005) (0.004)
Female 0.003 0.225 0.058 0.133 0.189** 0.179** 0.157*
(0.155) (0.145) (0.127) (0.088) (0.088) (0.089) (0.087)
New member state 1.355*** 0.349 0.552** 0.413 2.667***
(0.403) (0.223) (0.280) ( 0.450) (0.773)
Constant 1.494*** 1.084** 1.271*** 0.535 0.371 0.992*** 0.503
(0.482) (0.486) (0.426) (0.338) (0.354) (0.364) (0.362)
ln(alpha) 0.167 0.035 0.033 0.640 0.447*** 0.299*** 0.162**
(0.116) (0.101) (0.090) (0.105) (0.095) (0.085) (0.076)
Party group effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Country effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
N 453 534 585 670 691 872 839
pseudo R-sq 0.060 0.073 0.053 0.061 0.069 0.109 0.062
AIC 1817.743 2153.745 2679.279 2888.964 3008.876 3308.417 3421.318
BIC 1916.524 2265.035 2801.684 3028.690 3149.558 3513.561 3629.535

Note: robust standard errors in parentheses; *p<0.1, **p<0.05, ***p<0.01; reference categories: non-inscrit for party group effects; UK and Ireland for country effects.
Source: author’s own calculations
Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

5.4.1 The Importance of Co-Decision

Moving to a direct discussion of H6, recall that the advent of co-decision
under Maastricht permitted the EP to have a decisive say over certain kinds
of EU legislation—elevating it to the status of a ‘veto player’ with the Council
of Ministers. Under the 1999 Amsterdam Treaty, and later the 2009 Lisbon
Treaty, this status was further expanded upon.16 These developments indicate
that the EP’s opinion on a given piece of legislation is increasingly valuable.
This would also seem to indicate, therefore, that report allocation has become
increasingly valuable to MEPs, whose opinions now have the opportunity to
derail entire pieces of proposed Commission regulation. MEP education is not
just important, but increasingly so.
Table 5.5 displays pooled regressions for all seven waves of the EP. Because
individual MEPs may appear multiple times in the sample, I use robust clus-
tered error terms by a unique ID number associated with each individual
deputy, which is derived from the EP website. The findings remain essentially
the same as in the separate samples, although education is shown to be, on
aggregate, a significant predictor in the simple pooled model (1). To account
for the possibility that time may serve as a transformative variable, causing
education to become more important in later years, I introduce a simple wave
counter in model (2), as well as a dummy variable for waves of the EP in which
co-decision is an option in model (4). Both of these temporal variables are
then interacted with education.
Because of the nature of the interactive model, as well as the maximum
likelihood estimator, direct substantive interpretation of the variable coeffi-
cients is misleading, if not impossible. Therefore, I use the CLARIFY package
developed by Tomz et al. (2001) in order to evaluate the statistical and sub-
stantive significance of education on report allocation over time. I then graph
these expected values in various ways. Figures 5.1 and 5.2 display two of these
Figure 5.1 shows the predicted report allocation over time, based upon
changing levels of MEP education, when all other variables from model (2)
are set at their means. As interacted variables are not always statistically
significant at all values, I generate confidence intervals for each possible
combination of education and wave. Apart from the first wave of the EP,
where predicted probabilities reveal that different levels of education do not
receive significantly different numbers of committee reports, better-educated
MEPs are significantly more likely to dominate the reports allocation process
over time.
Each level of education receives a significantly different number of reports
from the other in the second wave of the EP, at a 90 per cent level of confi-
dence, and in waves three through seven, at a 95 per cent level of confidence.


Table 5.5. The effect of education and seniority on report allocation, 1979–2014 (pooled)

DV: Reports per term (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

Education 0.174*** 0.070 0.080 0.114*** 0.201** 0.267***

(0.03) (0.05) (0.05) (0.03) (0.08) (0.09)
Seniority (continuous) 0.116*** 0.118*** 0.313*** 0.118*** 0.117*** 0.302***
(0.03) (0.03) (0.11) (0.03) (0.03) (0.08)
EP wave 0.058 0.135 0.164*
(0.07) (0.09) (0.09)
Co-decision 0.665*** 0.550*** 0.586***
(0.17) (0.13) (0.15)
Education 0.026* 0.034** 0.104** 0.249** 0.331***
*EP wave/co-decision (0.01) (0.01) (0.05) (0.11) (0.12)
Education 0.064** 0.174**
*Seniority (continuous) (0.03) (0.08)
EP leader 0.216*** 0.208*** 0.217*** 0.207*** 0.217*** 0.221***
(0.07) (0.07) (0.07) (0.07) (0.07) (0.07)
Committee leader 0.643*** 0.645*** 0.644*** 0.646*** 0.651*** 0.652***
(0.05) (0.05) (0.05) (0.05) (0.05) (0.05)
Seek re-election 0.218*** 0.221*** 0.224*** 0.219*** 0.215*** 0.220***
(0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04)
Dropout 0.882*** 0.882*** 0.884*** 0.883*** 0.887*** 0.885***
(0.09) (0.09) (0.09) (0.09) (0.09) (0.09)
Party in national 0.069 0.067 0.064 0.068 0.070^ 0.072*
government (0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04)
Age 0.005** 0.005** 0.005** 0.005** 0.005** 0.005**
(0.00) (0.00) (0.00) (0.00) (0.00) (0.00)
Female 0.149*** 0.150*** 0.148*** 0.151*** 0.143*** 0.143***
(0.05) (0.05) (0.05) (0.05) (0.05) (0.05)
New member state 0.705*** 0.686*** 0.695*** 0.692*** 0.692*** 0.691***
(0.09) (0.09) (0.09) (0.09) (0.09) (0.09)
Constant 0.545 0.251 0.272 0.426 0.274 0.369^
(0.51) (0.56) (0.56) (0.28) (0.27) (0.28)
ln(alpha) 0.133*** 0.135*** 0.138*** 0.136*** 0.121*** 0.124***
(0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04) (0.04)
Party group effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Country effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Time effects? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Education scale 4-point 4-point 4-point 4-point 2-point 2-point
N 4639 4639 4639 4639 4639 4639
AIC 19265.769 19260.209 19255.228 19259.874 19295.530 19288.571
BIC 19594.324 19595.206 19603.110 19594.871 19630.530 19636.469

Note: robust standard errors in parentheses; ^p<0.1 (one-tailed), *p<0.1, **p<0.05, ***p<0.01; R. S. E. clustered for 2,800 individual MEPs in models 1 to 4 and 2,810 individual MEPs in models 5
and 6; reference categories: non-inscrit for party group, Ireland for country delegation, wave 7 for time.
Source: author’s own calculations
Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Predicated Number of Reports per Team


EP 1 EP 2 EP 3 EP 4 EP 5 EP 6 EP 7
Technical Secondary
Bachelor’s Postgraduate

Figure 5.1. The conditional effect of time on committee report allocation, MEPs,

By 2009, MEPs with graduate degrees received, on average, nearly three times
as many committee reports as an MEP with only a technical or vocational
school background. The evidence from model (2), as viewed in Figure 5.1,
offers support for H4. More highly educated MEPs do receive considerably
higher numbers of committee reports, controlling for their seniority, party
background, and a host of other demographic and political measures. This
effect is also shown to increase in its magnitude and significance over time,
suggesting that co-decision may play a major role in the changing nature of
report allocation.
Having provided evidence of the conditional effect of education on com-
mittee report assignment, it is worth comparing this effect with the impor-
tance of seniority proposed by H5. Figure 5.2 shows different expectations for
report allocation from model (6), based upon differences in MEP education
and experience. The distribution of the data in Table 5.1 suggests that the
most major substantive differences in MEP education might be between those
MEPs with some higher education (the top two values on the four-point
index) and those with no higher education at all (the bottom two values).
Accordingly, Figure 5.2 illustrates the substantive effect of seniority on report
allocation for the dichotomous classification of MEP education levels.
As shown by Figure 5.2, MEPs with some degree of higher education accrue
more reports as they become increasingly senior in the EP, expanding their
power on committees in an almost linear fashion. While more educated MEPs

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

Predicted Number of Reports per Term

0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Number of Terms Completed in EP

No Higher Education Some Higher Education

Figure 5.2. The conditional effect of seniority on committee report allocation, MEPs,

can expect to double the number of committee reports that they receive over
the course of their careers, the effect of seniority is much more dramatic for
MEPs without higher education. Although disadvantaged in their first term by
comparison, MEPs with lower levels of education are clearly impacted by
seniority, with the average five-term MEP in the category expected to receive
more than five committee reports in a given session. It is important to note
that the predicted values are generated using only real data (and thus there are
no expectations for less educated MEPs in their sixth or seventh terms—such a
person does not exist in the data). Nonetheless, seniority appears to have a
powerful and transforming effect on all MEPs, potentially even compensating
for an MEP’s lack of education over time, and offering support for H5.
While the evidence considered has offered support for both H4 and H5, it is
worth looking into just how time affects seniority and education in committee
report allocation, as posited by the discussion of co-decision in H6. Recall that
the advent of co-decision under Maastricht has permitted the EP to have a
decisive say over certain kinds of EU legislation—elevating it to the status of a
‘veto player’ with the Council of Ministers. Under the 1999 Amsterdam
Treaty, and later the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, this status was further expanded. If
the EP’s opinion of legislation has increased in its own value, then so too must
report allocation have become increasingly valuable to MEPs, whose individ-
ual opinions now have the opportunity to derail entire pieces of proposed
Commission regulation.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Consider the following expected number of committee reports, generated

using predicted probabilities from model (5). Prior to the possibility of
co-decision, the average MEP with some degree of higher education could
expect to receive 2.66 committee reports per term, while the analogous MEP
without any higher education could expect to receive 2.17 reports per term—a
difference that is not significant at a 95 per cent level of confidence. However,
since the ability of the EP to veto Commission proposals under co-decision,
that number has greatly diverged. MEPs with some level of higher education
can now expect to receive, on average, 2.41 reports per term, and MEPs with
no higher education are only likely to receive 1.55 reports per term—a differ-
ence in effect that is both statistically significant at a 95 per cent level of
confidence and substantively different by nearly a magnitude of two. Remem-
ber that these predicted effects are taken from the mean values of all variables
in model (5), changing only the possibility of co-decision. While education
and seniority both matter to varying degrees, the possibility of co-decision has
particularly augmented the importance of MEP education, supporting H6.

5.4.2 Additional Explanations

As the EP has expanded its membership, other signifiers—such as leadership
on EP committees or in the legislature’s internal institutions—clearly impact
the possibility of increased report allocation, perhaps as a way of distinguish-
ing those MEPs with additional stature from a growing sea of other politicians.
Unsurprisingly, MEPs who select out of the EP before the term concludes (the
dropout variable) receive fewer reports, while MEPs who sought re-election for
a following term were advantaged. Both of these variables proxy the sorts of
self-selection that we might expect from MEPs who are professionally invested
in their EP-level work and have no interest in going elsewhere. MEPs from new
member states, having just joined the EP, are even less likely to receive reports
than the average newly elected MEP, and members from major party groups
are advantaged—a function of their parties having more points to ‘buy’ the
committee reports.
Consider also how the findings track with the extant literature on report
allocation. Høyland’s (2006) position that MEPs from governing parties are
more likely to be awarded reports than those in their national opposition is
not supported by the data, except for in models (5) and (6) in Table 5.5. Why
might this be so? The main reason would seem to be that Høyland’s data
examine only a selection of politically sensitive co-decision reports, as
opposed to a more complete sample of committee work. Thus, as in
Lindberg’s (2008) discussion of the services directive, the findings are driven
by the sample selection and are not shown to apply more broadly. By expand-
ing the set of reports taken up by my analysis to the full breadth of committee

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

work, I am able to offer a more broadly generalizable picture of the average

A look at the full results suggests other ways that the most productive
rapporteurs differ from ‘normal’ MEPs. Across the various models, a picture
of rapporteurs as ‘serious’ MEPs emerges. Rapporteurs are likely to come from
the major party groups—an obvious finding, as the bartering system favours
large groups in report assignment—but also from the leadership of the
EP. Thus, committee chairs and quaestors—a subset of MEPs whose internal
ambition has already led them to self-select into a leadership role—also have
more legislative clout. For committee chairs, this is also a likely artefact of their
institutional position, as committee chairs and vice chairs often take on
‘leftover’ reports that receive no bids. However, both of these findings are
also not entirely unlike the experience variable and suggest that interpersonal
networks and individual social capital matter a great deal in the EP.
Another set of variables examines the professional ambition of MEPs more
directly. Those MEPs who did not intend to seek another term in the EP at the
end of their current mandate were also less likely to seek out committee
reports—demonstrating their lack of enthusiasm or participation on the job.
MEPs who did not complete their mandate—mostly because they entered into
national office during an EP session—were also less engaged in the committee
work process. At the limit, old age also decreases one’s likelihood of serving as
a rapporteur. The most prolific rapporteurs appear to be at the peak of their
careers. Moreover, the careers of productive rapporteurs are also clearly
centred in the EP and not elsewhere. Finally, although women make up only
24 per cent of EP membership, on average, Table 5.5 does indicate that they
receive somewhat more reports than their male counterparts—a finding that
should certainly be given additional consideration in future explorations.
Another basis of comparison for rapporteurs is their national background.
Mamadouh and Raunio (2003) find that a disproportionate number of reports
went to German and British MEPs, as compared with the French and Italians,
during EP 4 (1994–1999). The pooled regression results do replicate an advan-
tage for the Germans or British, as compared with both French and Italian
MEPs. The reason for this is likely twofold. Thinking back to earlier chapters,
we recall that French and Italian MEP delegations are much more volatile—
MEPs from these countries spend less time in Europe and often cycle back to
their ‘main’ careers in national politics. By comparison, the average UK or
German MEP has spent the bulk of their political career in the EP, with more
limited experience in national politics. Thus, experience on the EP level is
both influenced and reinforced by differences in national background.
An additional reason for this discrepancy is differences in the interpersonal
networks of French and Italian MEPs from their German and UK colleagues.
Although MEPs are provided with top-notch translation and interpretation

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

services, in order to guarantee their ability to work in their national languages,

a tendency for informal work in the EP to be carried out in English is a growing
reality within the EP—particularly since the accession of Central and East
European members after 2004. The increased dominance of English in the
EP clearly marginalizes MEPs who are not comfortable speaking English in
the more or less formal settings of committee work. It is no secret that English
language capabilities are less prevalent in France, as well as in the southern
European countries. Thus, we might anticipate these deputies to be less central
to the committee work process and therefore serve less often as a rapporteur.
One final caveat to the analysis of report allocation comes from the discus-
sion of rapporteurs as ideological moderates. To check for the possibility that
‘extremist’ ideologues might receive below-average shares of committee
reports, I run additional robustness checks on all models featured in
Table 5.5 to include proxies for ideological extremism.17 Two variables are
constructed from MEP NOMINATE scores—a method of rating ideological
differences in MEP voting behaviour developed in work by Hix et al.
(2007)—where one dimension represents traditional left–right ideological
differences and the other positive–negative attitudes towards European
I calculate median ideological scores for each party group in each wave of
the EP and then construct measures of extremism for an MEP’s distance from
that median party group-wave ideal point. On balance, the additional vari-
ables are insignificant across most models (although pro/anti-EU extremist
MEPs receive somewhat fewer reports in models (5) and (6) of Table 5.5). The
main conclusions of the chapter remain robust. This would likely suggest that
the decision to prevent extremist MEPs from serving as rapporteur is mostly
subsumed by the bidding process for committee reports between party groups,
a process where fringe MEPs are already at a disadvantage, given their below-
average party group size (and corresponding lack of points for bidding).

5.4.3 Robustness at the Committee Level

The macro quantitative results indicate the presence of a strong and statisti-
cally significant relationship between education, experience, and the alloca-
tion of committee reports—providing evidence of an increasingly educated
and veteran subset of MEPs who wield a majority of the EP’s real legislative
power. Such a relationship is particularly striking when the breadth and scale
of the data used in the multivariate analysis is considered. Given the extent of
the data, it is worth considering whether these same relationships are also
robust for smaller samples of rapporteurships within the EP.
In order to test the sensitivity of my findings at a lower level, I consider a
random selection of reports concluded during the sixth wave of the EP,

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

Table 5.6. Selected report allocation by education, political group, and country of origin,

Category Consultation Co-decision All MEPs

Highest degree earned:

Technical 8% 5% 7%
Secondary 4% 10% 6%
Bachelor’s 43% 37% 43%
Postgraduate 43% 48% 44%
EP party group:
Christian democratic (EPP) 43% 34% 38%
Socialist (PES) 29% 38% 28%
Liberal (ALDE) 13% 16% 13%
Greens (G/EFA) 4% 8% 5%
Far left (GUE/NGL) 4% 3% 5%
All others (ECR, EFD, NI) 5% 1% 11%
Geographic background:
EU-15 countries (EP members prior to 2004) 89% 91% 73%
Enlargement countries (2004–2007 expansions) 11% 9% 27%

Source: author’s own calculations

2004–2009. This wave of Parliament is particularly worthy of closer consider-

ation, as it is the first wave to take place after and during the 2004/2007 EU
enlargements. It also contains a large amount of legislation that was decided
upon under the co-decision procedure, where the EP essentially has veto
power over the Council of Ministers. I randomly select 100 reports decided
under co-decision during the term, as well as an additional eighty-two reports
decided via the consultation procedure—an older method of EP legislation,
where the EP does not have a veto, but may propose amendments to the
Council. The two random samples represent approximately 25 per cent of all
legislation decided by either co-decision or consultation, which in turn con-
stitute the vast majority of EP legislation from 2004 to 2009, and are selected
in proportion to the actual balance of reports filed by the EP.
Table 5.6 displays the relative distribution for the consultation and co-
decision reports considered, based upon the rapporteur’s highest level of
education, as well as the relative balance of the rapporteur’s EP party group
and country of origin. The sample distribution essentially confirms results
from the multivariate analysis. Under both legislative modes, MEPs with a
university degree hold the majority of rapporteurships, although the distribu-
tion is roughly the same as among all MEPs in the wave.
More interesting, however, is the balance of rapporteurs from the different
party groups. Under co-decision, MEPs from both the socialist and green
blocks successfully outperform their relative size in the EP—particularly as
compared with the smaller, more ideologically extreme and the unaffiliated
non-inscrit blocs. MEPs from outside of pre-enlargement EU-15 also receive a

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Table 5.7. Selected report allocation per committee, 2004–2009 (%)

Committee Consultation Co-decision

AFCO (constitutional affairs) 1% 0%

AFET (foreign affairs) 0% 0%
AGRI (agriculture and rural development) 16% 2%
BUDG (budget) 4% 1%
CONT (budgetary control) 3% 0%
CULT (culture and education) 1% 5%
DEVE (development) 0% 1%
ECON (economic and monetary affairs) 8% 9%
EMPL (employment and social affairs) 1% 7%
ENVI (environment, public health, and safety) 3% 23%
FEMM (women’s rights and gender equality) 0% 1%
IMCO (internal market and consumer protection) 0% 8%
INTA (international trade) 3% 0%
ITRE (industry, research, and energy) 8% 9%
JURI (legal affairs) 3% 10%
LIBE (civil liberties, justice, and home affairs) 28% 9%
PECH (fisheries) 14% 0%
REGI (regional development) 1% 1%
TRAN (transport and tourism) 5% 15%

Source: author’s own calculations

highly disproportionate balance of important co-decision reports: MEPs from

enlargement countries received only 9 per cent of co-decision rapporteur-
ships, although they occupied over 27 per cent of the seats in the EP.
Although the sampling exercise confirms the large-scale multivariate find-
ings, the data contain further added value, insofar as they allow us to consider
which committees are deciding the most important rapporteurships. Table 5.7
displays the balance of legislative reports decided in the most recently com-
pleted wave of the EP, by both decision mode and standing legislative com-
mittee. Committees that did not decide consultation or co-decision reports are
excluded. The top five committees are in bold and underlined.
The results are interesting for their uneven and varied distribution. Most
notably, the ENVI (Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety) and TRAN
(Transport and Tourism) committees decided more than half of all selected
co-decision reports from 2004 to 2009. This likely explains the high incidence
of green and socialist MEP influence on co-decision reports during the wave,
as these issue domains are generally considered important bases of concern for
the centre-left and green political movements.
By contrast, the LIBE (Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs), PECH
(Fisheries), and AGRI (Agriculture and Rural Development) committees
decided a disproportionate majority of consultation reports. Microanalysis of
consultation reports assigned to these committees reveals a high concentra-
tion of consultation decisions not only in a small number of committees but
also among a small group of MEPs. One liberal French MEP is listed as reporter

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

for more than 10 per cent of all reports decided in the PECH committee
from 2004 to 2009, indicating a personal speciality in regional fishing treaties.
Similarly, a Romanian MEP from the LIBE committee is listed as the only
rapporteur on separate consultation proposals on visa issues for each non-
EU country in the Balkans.
Powerful-sounding committees in issue areas where both the EP and EU
actually have little to no policy-making competence, such as the AFET (For-
eign Affairs) committee, decided virtually no major reports during the term.
This presents a problem for MEPs who wish to appear powerful and productive
to their constituents. A former Polish MEP hinted at this peril in a recent
interview, bemoaning his national colleagues’ tendency to seek assignments
on flashy sounding committees, such as international trade or foreign affairs,
where the Parliament exerts very little influence, rather than seeking an
assignment to a drier-sounding regulatory or economic committee, where
the EP’s actual power lies.18
The connections between committee power, individual MEP characteristics,
and professional ambition are interesting when viewed in terms of such a
lower level analysis. MEPs whose career ambition involves serving as an active
legislator are best suited not only to cultivate a personal background of edu-
cation and experience at the EP level, but also to seek assignment to more
substantively productive committees. By contrast, MEPs may also wish to
‘appear’ powerful, serving on committees that are easily identifiable to con-
stituents, but are of little to no importance to the functioning of the EP itself.
Following the ratification and implementation of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009,
the co-decision procedure was expanded to include a number of new issue
areas—including agriculture, fishing, and trade—which had previously
existed only under the consultation procedure. In expanding its purview, co-
decision was renamed the ‘ordinary’ legislative procedure, and a number of
other less-used legislative modes were condensed under the ‘special proce-
dures’ heading. It will be interesting to see how this further strengthening of
the EP’s power in EU decision making continues to change the process of
rapporteur selection in years to come.

5.5 Conclusion

MEP career behaviour is viewable in light of both internal and external pat-
terns of professional advancement. As seen in Chapter 3, the institutionaliza-
tion of the EP has led to an increased number of MEPs who build their entire
political careers on the European level. Chapter 4 examined uses of the EP for
those politicians whose professional goal is a different office. The present
chapter has attempted to place the outcome of these different styles of career

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

behaviour in context by examining the internal advancement of MEPs within

the various positions available in the EP.
According to Strøm (1997), politicians, as well as political parties, have three
basic goals: the winning of votes, office, and policy. The office of committee
rapporteur is not only linked to prestige, with longer-serving MEPs and
those holding administrative power in the EP more often receiving reports,
but also the main way that an individual MEP can shape EU policy. Thus, for
serious MEPs with the professional goal of an extensive career in European
politics, the accrual of reports is an important way of contributing to both
the power and content of the EP’s work. My analysis has shown that these
careerist MEPs are indeed more likely to be selected as a rapporteur.
Nonetheless, a key contribution of this chapter has been to show that
education also matters for the accrual of rapporteurships. This finding sup-
ports the view of the EP as an increasingly specialized legislature—stemming
also from the technically complex nature of EU policy making in general.
However, what are the normative consequences for a parliament in which a
select clique of legislators are favoured in the making of policy, based upon
their previous experience in the EP, as well as their individual backgrounds?
Indeed, much of the discussion behind the EP’s expanding powers is cast in
terms of a perceived democratic deficit in EU politics. If the EP is supposedly
the bastion of representative democracy and citizen participation at the Euro-
pean level, is it a favourable finding that a smaller group of specialists and
careerists wield a disproportionate amount of influence in the formation of
the EP’s legislation? How much specialization is good for a legislator or for a
legislature? In the EU’s political culture, where a premium is already placed on
complicated regulations and where policy outputs are increasingly viewable as
either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, one might argue that the EP’s role as a representative
institution is to provide popular oversight for such attitudes. Instead, the
evidence presented by this chapter suggests that the EP is simply another
instance of the EU’s premium on technocratic abilities.
The uneven distribution of rapporteurships is also of potential concern for
national political parties. In systems such as France, where MEP turnover is
quite high, members are handicapped from participating in the report system.
Indeed, every single French MEP interviewed, regardless of their ideological
background, mentioned their party as the predominant determinant of their
future career path. Four of the sitting members interviewed even suggested
that while French MEPs would prefer to become more active in EP committee
work, the party’s overwhelming control over their future in the EP limits their
ability to build the individual profile and legacy needed to be selected as
rapporteur. Thus, for example, French conservatives are potentially disadvan-
taged, as compared with their German colleagues from the EPP, in the selec-
tion and management of committee work and reports. Political parties, more

Rapporteur Selection and Internal Advancement

than any other unit of political life in the EP, must be aware of the externalities
of candidate selection with regard to the unique processes of committee work
at play.
The selection of quality candidates for the European Parliament should be
of major interest to scholars, practitioners, and popular observers of the EU
alike. As the main principal for democratic input in the EU institutions, the
public has an interest in selecting skilled agents to represent them at the
EP. Political parties also stand to benefit via the allocation of rapporteurships,
which provide a direct and meaningful input into the policy-making process.
For EU scholars, an increase in MEP quality can also lead to a decrease in the
sort of volatility explored by Scarrow (1997). By contrast, however, the growth
of an ‘elite’ cartel of educated MEPs, concentrating the decision-making phase
of the legislative process into the hands of a few, may also serve as a detriment
to representative democracy in the EU.
In the following three chapters, I shift my attention on the career behaviour
of MEPs to three major country cases—France, Germany, and Poland—where
variation in patterns of internal and external advancement, as well as party
control, is particularly noticeable. The following section continues to rely
heavily upon original interview and archival data; however, the method of
analysis shifts from that of a large-scale econometric framework to a selection
of qualitative case studies. In so doing, I aim to apply the broadly generalizable
findings of the past three chapters to key specific national instances, in an
attempt to provide more nuanced support for my theory of MEP career


1. Portions of this chapter appeared in Daniel (2013). The article version is an abbre-
viated version of this chapter and focuses only on the first six waves of the EP,
between 1979 and 2009.
2. For work on rapporteurs as outliers with connections to special interest, see Kaeding
(2004). For information on rapporteurs as median voter MEPs, see Hausemer (2006).
For information on rapporteurs as representatives of major national parties, see
Benedetto (2005). And for information on rapporteurs as national majority party
insiders, see Høyland (2006).
3. However, see work by Costello and Thompson (2010) and Yordanova (2013).
4. For a more detailed account on the dynamics of inter-institutional bargaining
between the EP and Council under co-decision, see work by Häge and Kaeding
(2007), Héritier (2012), Rasmussen (2011), and Shackleton and Raunio (2003).
5. MEP, personal interview, 22 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
6. MEP, personal interview, 22 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
7. MEP, personal interview, 25 April 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

8. German MP, personal interview, 9 May 2012, Bundestag, Berlin.

9. MEP assistant, personal interview, 24 February 2012, European Parliament,
10. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
11. MEP, personal interview, 1 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
12. MEP, personal interview, 8 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.
13. MEP, personal interview, 26 April 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
14. MEP, personal interview, 10 April 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
15. For additional information on coding schemes, please refer to the appendices.
16. A condensed guide to the areas in which the EP has a legal basis to co-decide with
the Council of Ministers is available at: <
17. Robustness checks are run for all models in Table 5.5, using only data for the first
six waves of the EP, 1979–2009. Results are not listed, but can be obtained using the
replication data available on the author’s website.
18. MP, personal interview, 20 December 2011, Sejm, Warsaw.


French MEPs and the Effect

of High Turnover

The previous three chapters presented and tested an institutional theory for
the career behaviour of members of the European Parliament. Chapter 3
demonstrated a positive effect of the legislature’s professionalization and
expanding institutional power on MEP re-election seeking and careerism,
while Chapter 4 addressed federalism and policy-making decentralization as
two major sources of variation with impacts on the careers of politicians, well
beyond the national level. Chapter 5 addressed consequences for MEP career
behaviour on the balance of power within EP policy making, finding a positive
effect for both seniority and MEP level of education on a given MEP’s success
in procuring legislative rapporteurships.
The empirical chapters provide broad support for changes in the structure of
MEP career paths since the initiation of direct elections to the EP in 1979.
Although the statistical models offer varying degrees of support for the
hypotheses presented in Chapter 2, it is clear that the diverse backgrounds
of MEPs, as well as their individual behavioural choices, often present diffi-
culties for the efficient estimation of the quantitative models. In particular,
models using country-level fixed, which have been commonly used through-
out the book, absorb a great deal of statistical variance in the data. At best, the
quantitative results discussed in the preceding three chapters have offered
robust results for my theory of MEP career behaviour that are generalizable
across multiple national delegations and time points. However, at worst, the
data are constrained by such a large degree of variation that they offer mostly
broad, sweeping answers and relatively little nuance. While the differences in
an MEP’s country of origin do not detract from the significance or generaliz-
ability of the empirical findings across the legislature as a whole, that substan-
tial national differences do exist in a multinational setting such as the EP
suggests the potential usefulness of considering just how the major claims of
the study play out in specific country delegations.
Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Table 6.1. Hypotheses illustrated in France, Germany, and Poland

H Theory +/ DV France Germany Poland

H1 Power + Re-election Supported

H2 Professionalization + Re-election Supported
H3 Federalism + Re-election Supported Supported
H4 Education + Reports Supported Supported
H5 Seniority + Reports Supported Supported
H6 Co-decision - Reports Supported Supported

Source: author’s own calculations

To shed additional light on a few of the more pronounced national differ-

ences, the ensuing three chapters explore changes in MEP career behaviour
from within three notable country delegations to the EP: France; Germany;
and Poland. Although the case studies presented are selected in accordance
with George and Bennett’s (2005) advice for developing ‘structured’ and
‘focused’ comparisons, the principal utility of these case studies is not to
offer substitute tests for a theory of MEP career behaviour, but rather to
illustrate how the theory operates ‘on the ground’. As shown in Table 6.1,
each of the hypotheses tested in the three previous chapters is supported by
evidence from at least one of the three countries. However, as we might also
expect, not all of the countries’ MEPs behave the same way. Before discussing
the first case, I begin with a brief justification for the selection of these three
cases. The remainder of this chapter explores the career behaviour of French
MEPs. Chapters 7 and 8 explore EP delegations from Germany and Poland,

6.1 Case Selection

France and Germany represent the largest delegations to the EP and are both
founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community’s General
Assembly—the fledgling advisory board that evolved into the current EP.
However, the two major players contain a number of internal differences.
Under the Fifth Republic, the French party system has moved towards a
majoritarian arrangement with two dominant parties, whereas post-war
Germany has tended to operate under multi-party coalition governments.
France remains the epitome of a highly centralized state, although recent
reforms have diffused some power to its regions. Germany, with its diverse
collection of subnational Länder, remains a balanced federal system. By exam-
ining differences and similarities in the professional behaviour of MEPs from
these two systems, we can highlight how these two ‘most different’ of cases

French MEPs and the Effect of High Turnover

nonetheless provide the largest delegations to the EP and are subjected to

similar institutional constraints therein.
However, recent structural changes to the EU also necessitate new consid-
erations from beyond the long-established members of the EP. The 2004 and
2007 enlargements brought an additional twelve members into the EU, mas-
sively reorganizing the EP and other European institutions. As a result, trad-
itional Christian democratic and socialist party blocs have been forced to
rethink ideological partnerships within the transnational party groups, posi-
tions of power within the EP have been reallocated to include representation
from new members, and the spirit of debate within the EP policy-making
process has faced a number of challenges related to the socialization of new
The Polish delegation is not only the largest of these new member states, but
it is also one of the more vocal participants in the enlarged EP. Led by the
dominant centre-right Platforma Obywatelska (PO, Civic Platform) party in
both recent domestic and European elections, the Polish delegation has
proven to be a strong new force within the leading European People’s Party
(EPP) at the EU level—even supplying the EP’s president for the first half of the
2009–2014 term. Any consideration of MEP career behaviour would be remiss
not to consider this largest of the EU enlargement members. While the Polish
delegation remains comparatively new within the legislature, their first two
completed terms in the EP present some evidence of an impulse towards
further institutionalization among the career behaviour of their members
that is not unlike trends witnessed among both French and German MEPs.

6.1.1 Summary of Major Findings

In the remaining sections of the case studies, I use country-level data from the
French, German, and Polish delegation to demonstrate my theory for MEP
career behaviour in practice. The French case illustrates a challenge for the
development of careerist MEPs posited by H3, as the French national parties
produce comparatively extreme turnover rates among their MEPs—even com-
monly removing those from office who would otherwise prefer to stay in the
EP. By contrast, the German EP delegation has witnessed much lower levels of
volatility and membership turnover since 1979. The strong regional basis for
party organization within Germany is explored as a possible explanation for
this low turnover. The benefits of low volatility among MEP delegations are
also demonstrated by the two cases: German MEPs have had much higher
rates of success at securing committee rapporteurships than the French—
findings that are germane to H4–H6.
Finally, Polish MEPs provide an interesting contemporary illustration of the
power of legislative professionalism on the careers of MEPs, as well as their

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

political parties. As compared with the national Polish Sejm, the EP provides
much higher salaries, better working conditions, and a higher level of
prestige—all of which present support for H2. There is limited evidence that
Polish MEPs, having served in both sessions of the EP following the 2004
enlargement, did increase their influence in the legislature during the
2009–2014 period. Nonetheless, the Polish case continues to ask more ques-
tions than the current data can answer, suggesting that much of the impact of
the most recent expansion on the EP’s development as a legislature remains to
be seen in future sessions of the parliament.

6.2 Paris, Parties, and Prestige (H1 and H2)

The itinerant European legislature is formally seated in the French city of

Strasbourg, although the EP maintains most of its administrative infrastructure
in Luxembourg and the majority of usual business is conducted in Brussels.
Nonetheless, the country that gave us Jean Monnet is central to any study of EU
politics and is therefore worthy of consideration within the scope of the current
project. However, French MEPs have also been the traditional black sheep of the
legislature: exhibiting unusually high turnover rates and used by the French
political parties as a either a waste bin for defunct national politicians or a plum
reward for party insiders. As a result, the French EP delegation has traditionally
underperformed in its policy-making capacity, relative to its size. Although
France remains somewhat of a ‘tough case’ for supporting the broader claims
made about MEP career behaviour in the previous three chapters, there may yet
be signs of an increased importance accorded to the EP from both its French
membership, as well as the central political leadership back in Paris.
This section considers the level of institutional professionalization wit-
nessed in the EP for French members, taking time to compare it with both
the Assemblée nationale and Sénat, which have undergone significant processes
of professionalization in recent years. Data from each venue illustrate that
membership volatility has decreased as the legislatures expand their power
and professional capacity, as was also the case with the EP in Chapter 3. In a
unitary setting such as France, however, the national political parties remain
the major source of influence for MEP career behaviour, and I next consider
their impact on European elections. I also examine how a 2004 decision to
‘regionalize’ formerly national electoral lists for the EP have somewhat
decreased the stranglehold of the national parties on candidate nomination
practices. Finally, I explore the effect of continued turnover among French
MEPs for both the legislature’s seniority, as well as the productivity of the
membership in policy making.

French MEPs and the Effect of High Turnover

6.2.1 Power and Professionalization

The first two hypotheses explored in Chapter 3 examined the effect of the EP’s
professionalization as a legislature and its relative power in the EU policy-
making process as determinants of increases in the levels of MEP re-election
seeking. Because of the notoriously volatile nature of the French EP delega-
tion, it is worth considering whether or not these hypotheses are also sup-
ported by data from the French delegation, as well as how the level of EP
professionalization and power compares to the national French legislative
A classic work from Gibel (1981) examines legislative professionalization
within the Assemblée nationale. Greatly weakened in its powers by the consti-
tutions of the Fourth and Fifth Republics, the French lower house also did not
institute fixed salaries for its members until 1958, nor did it reimburse travel
and housing costs from deputies to attend plenary sessions in Paris until the
early 1970s. A new administrative complex adjacent to the Palais Bourbon
provided MPs with much needed office space, only beginning in 1974.
Impacted by each of these changes, Gibel demonstrates the effect of the
Assemblée’s professionalization of the face of its own membership, which
only came to be dominated by a professional class of politicians in the early
1980s. Recent work by Costa and Kerrouche (2009) extends the analysis
through the 2007 elections, where a full 82 per cent of current MPs indicated
an interest in seeking re-election to the body—citing the legislature’s prestige
and professional character as a major source of its attraction—and 70 per cent
of outgoing MPs were eventually able to successfully defend their seats.
Table 6.2 provides incumbency rates for French and German legislators in
national and European contests held between 1979 and 2014.1 An exami-
nation of the French politicians shows a fairly modest, yet stable, rate of re-
election to the national parliament and routinely lower rates of return for
French MEPs—although the percentage did grow from about 35 per cent
throughout the 1980s and 1990s to just shy of 48 per cent in the 2004–2009
session of the EP. Taking into account the initiation of co-decision and veto
powers during the 1990s, the relative incumbency boom among French MEPs
in 2004 may indicate the power of co-decision argued by H1—particularly
when compared with the steady baseline of incumbency at the national level.
However, the session may also be an outlier, as the percentage of returning
MEPs to the French delegation declined towards its historic average by the
2009–2014 session.
Figure 6.1 illustrates the relationship between re-election seeking to the EP
and French MEP salaries. By 1979, both the EP and Assemblée nationale offered
identical salaries and similar levels of indirect compensation and support for
their members. Nonetheless, the figure indicates that re-election seeking to

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Table 6.2. Incumbency rates in select French and German elections, 1979–2009

EP election % FR MEPs returned FR national election % FR MPs returned

1984 38.89 1986 55.29

1989 34.26 1988 66.90
1994 35.85 1993 52.57
1999 34.34 1997 51.99
2004 47.13 2002 57.54
2009 33.72 2007 70.00

EP election % DE MEPs returned DE national election % DE MPs returned

1984 66.67 1983 80.38

1989 46.07 1987 75.72
1994 43.14 1994 67.26
1999 67.33 1998 70.85
2004 67.96 2002 65.84
2009 54.81 2009 69.13

Source: MEP figures are author’s own calculations; French MP data are taken from the Assemblée
nationale, except for 2009, taken from Costa and Kerrouche (2009); German MP data are taken from
the Bundestag

2400 4800 7200 9600 12000


Monthly Salary (US PPPs)

Per cent MEPs



Seek Re-election Seek MP Election


Figure 6.1. The effect of time and salary on ambition, French MEPs, 1979–2009

the EP hovered at around 40 per cent of outgoing French MEPs throughout the
bulk of the 1979–2009 period, reaching the 50 per cent mark only in 2004. By
contrast, data collected on MEP careers indicate that about 20 per cent of
French MEPs routinely ran for national office directly following their mandate
as an MEP. Although re-election seeking does increase somewhat, it is unclear

French MEPs and the Effect of High Turnover

whether this effect can be attributed to mostly modest changes in French MEP
salaries, particularly when compared with a national parliament that Gibel
suggests was already well professionalized by the mid-1980s. This may suggest
that the professionalization hypothesis put forward in H2 is less useful for
understanding the French case. To what beyond power, then, do we attribute
the large differences between French incumbency rates at the national and
European levels?
Beauvallet (2003) compares the profile of French MPs with their MEP ana-
logues, finding that French MEPs tend to be younger, less politically experi-
enced, and more gender balanced than their national MP counterparts. He
attributes this differentiation to the use of the EP by national political parties
as a sort of reserve for elected talent. However, he also notes with irony the
tension at play in selecting French MEPs. Parties may wish to use the EP in
order to groom greenhorn politicians or exile the disgraced, but the expanding
policy-making power of the EP makes the wasting of European slots on
political featherweights a dangerous enterprise. As Rozenberg (2005) notes,
‘Today’s MEPs have more power vis-à-vis public policymaking than national
MPs, but rare are the French MPs and senators who would trade in their
position’ for one in Europe (508).2 The difference is clearly one of prestige.
As one French MP, who had spent some time in the EP after losing her seat in
Paris, put it, ‘After the deputies and some senators, you are just one of the

6.3 ‘Partitocrazia’ à la Française? (H3)

If the evolution of the EP’s power has only slightly raised the spectre of an
extensive career in European politics among French MEPs, then one major
source of the continued career volatility lies within the political parties them-
selves. French national parties have treated EP elections with suspicion, going
all the way back to the initial 1979 elections. At that time, the French right was
divided on the Europe question, and a sizeable number of rightist MEPs ran on
the Gaullist Rassemblement pour la République (RPR, Rally for the Republic) list,
led by a particularly Eurosceptic Jacques Chirac. Once elected, MEPs from the
RPR attempted to practise what is known in French as the tourniquet system—
resigning their seats on a frequent basis, in order to stunt the possibility of a
worthy contribution from the French conservatives to the fledgling legislative
body. The French greens also used this practice throughout the 1980s,
although for a very different reason, in order to give more of their members
a chance to serve in elected office. Even the extreme right Front National cycled
multiple MEPs through their seats in the early 1990s—training new recruits
for future national runs (Marrel and Payre 2006).

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

The use of European seats to promote the national parties is exceptionally

common in France. Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and François
Hollande—as well as a number of prime ministers from Lionel Jospin to Edith
Cresson—have all filled visible positions on EP lists. None fulfilled their term,
however, and most abdicated their spot to politicians ranked lower on the list,
directly after their election. Other high-ranking French politicians, such as
Philippe de Villiers and Charles Pasqua, have used their campaigns for the EP
in order to protest against decisions made by their national parties—in that
particular case forming their own list, independent of former colleagues from
the French right. Beauvallet (2003) also details the use of EP elections by
smaller parties, such as Chasse Pêche Nature Tradition (Hunting, Fishing,
Nature, and Tradition), simply to raise attention to their cause. Whether
building enthusiasm for domestic platforms, resolving a political row, or
searching for new supporters, it is clear that the French political parties have
done little to react in a productive manner to the increased power of the EP.
While much of this likely relates to the highly centralized party organiza-
tional structure that exists in France, one fairly recent change in French
electoral law has attempted to correct for the dominant role of the central
party leadership in EP elections. Beginning in 2004, EP elections were shifted
from a single national party list to a set of regional lists, which was ostensibly
done to bring French EP elections more in line with the electoral style used in
other larger member states (i.e. the UK, Germany, Italy, and Poland). This
regionalization of electoral lists has also been responsible for some change in
the dynamics of candidate selection, from a recruitment strategy based purely
upon national issues to one that is more locally oriented (Beauvallet and
Michon 2009). While this electoral change should move the French parties
in a more ‘federal’ direction and increase the stability of MEP delegations over
time, most observers have seen little in the way of change for the management
of French politicians during EP elections, with many national names finding
themselves parachuté into a region where they do not live.
Lefebvre and Marrel (2012) explore the composition and drafting of the
French socialist party lists for the 2009 EP elections. Their article opens with
the advice of an outgoing French MEP that was not seeking re-election, who
urges his party to select their candidates using the following major consider-
ations: (1) avoid selecting too many new faces and shaking up the current
MEPs; (2) select candidates that will be active and present in their work; (3)
require MEPs to stay in office for a complete term and not to leave early to
become a national MP; and (4) limit the usage of the cumul des mandats
(139–40). Each suggestion not only represents the advice of a seasoned MEP
who understands what is necessary to do good work in the legislature, but also
highlights the major problems traditionally faced by French MEPs. Parties
have often selected lists in response to national fads and not based upon the

French MEPs and the Effect of High Turnover

Table 6.3. List placement and MEP re-election seeking in France, 2014

National party MEPs MEPs seeking MEP regional list

outgoing re-election heads

UMP 29 15 4 of 8
PS 14 7 3 of 8
Les Verts 14 8 5 of 8
UDI/MoDem 7 7 5 of 8
Front de Gauche 5 5 5 of 8
Outre-Mer 1 1 1 of 1
Front National 3 3 2 of 8
Europe Citoyenne 1 1 1 of 6
Mouvement pour la 1 0 0 of 8

Source: author’s own calculations

prior experience of candidates, many MEPs are disinterested in their office and
primarily work to return to national politics, and numerous MEPs continue to
abuse the use of multiple office holding.
While Lefebvre and Marrel find little evidence that these practices were any
different in 2009, do they still continue today? Table 6.3 examines the turn-
over of French MEPs within political parties during the 2014 EP elections, as
well as the placement of incumbent MEPs on regional party lists. A few notable
trends emerge from the data. Each of the three largest French parties in the EP—
the centre-right UMP (Union pour un mouvement populaire, Union for a Popular
Movement), centre-left PS (Parti socialiste, Socialist Party), and greens (Europe
Écologie—Les Verts)—re-selected only half of their outgoing MEPs for the
2014 elections. Even more revealing is the use of incumbents serving as lead
candidates on the regional party lists. For example, while it is fair to assume
that socialists may not perform evenly across all regions, it is remarkable that
only three regions featured outgoing MEPs as their list leaders. This suggests
that parties continue not to take their MEPs seriously as politicians that are able
to attract votes. In many cases, incumbent MEPs were listed second or third
on the ballot, behind fresh faces from outside of the EP—a clear and direct
violation of the advice given above and an indicator that most French parties
do not focus on promoting seniority among their EP delegations.
A further detriment of the lack of seniority among French MEPs within the
legislature is their above-average propensity to resign from office before the
completion of a full term. Table 6.4 explores the reasons for early exit among all
French MEPs that did not complete their mandate during the most recent two
sessions. In almost all cases, early exiting French MEPs left the EP to take on a
national political office. The 2007 elections to the Assemblée nationale and the
2011 Sénat contest were both popular years and reasons for early exits. Some

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

MEPs even went on to hold national or subnational executive positions. While

early exiting MEPs come from all political backgrounds, they do share many
similarities: relatively few dropout MEPs held internal leadership positions in
the EP and few were active in producing legislation in the committees.
A few interesting anecdotes also emerge from the data presented in
Table 6.4. Only two of the early exiting MEPs left without a further

Table 6.4. French MEPs failing to complete their mandate, 2004–2014

Name Departure Terms completed Reports


Simonot 2004 0 0 (0)

Hortefeux 2005 1 0 (0)
Bachelot- 2007 0 1 (1)
Bourlanges 2007 3 3 (0)
Fruteau 2007 1 5 (1)
Moscovici 2007 1 5 (1)
Reynaud 2007 0 1 (0)
Vergès 2007 2 0 (0)
Bourzai 2008 0 1 (0)
Hazan 2008 1 1 (0)
Navarro 2008 0 1 (0)
Barnier 2010 0 0 (0)
Gruny 2010 0 1 (0)
Baudis 2011 0 (3 partial) 1 (0)
Béchu 2011 0 0 (0)
Soullie 2011 0 0 (0)

Name Leadership Destination National party

Simonot (none) Resign for party member FN

Hortefeux (none) National government UMP
Bachelot- (none) MP, then minister UMP
Bourlanges Bureau; Committee National government UDF
Fruteau Committee Vice-Chair MP PS
Moscovici EP Vice President MP, then minister PS
Reynaud (none) MP PS
Vergès (none) Regional president, PCF
Bourzai Committee Vice-Chair Senator PS
Hazan (none) Mayor of Reims PS
Navarro (none) Senator PS
Barnier Bureau EU commissioner UMP
Gruny Bureau MP UMP
Baudis Committee Vice-Chair National government UMP
Béchu (none) Regional council, UMP
Soullie (none) Resign for party member UMP

Source: author’s own calculations

French MEPs and the Effect of High Turnover

government position already secured. In the case of MEP Simonot, her original
election was only a result of the so-called ‘zigzag’ lists—in which the gender of
candidates was alternated across the full list—that were used by many French
political parties in 2004, in order to encourage gender parity. Once she won
office, she quickly resigned to allow a more experienced and better known
politician from her party to join the EP (Beauvallet and Michon 2008). MEP
Soullie behaved similarly, resigning her post to allow for the return of deposed
minister Brice Hortefeux, once he lost his position in the national govern-
ment. The removal of both women to allow for the return of a more pre-
eminent man raises interesting questions related to gender balance in the
French delegation. However, the general data from the table paint a picture
of French MEPs as operating at the mercy of their party—many have clearly
used their position in the European legislature as a way of staying on the
backburner for a future position in national government. Although some of
these behaviours are not unique to the French, the persistence of the cumul des
mandats and its impact on the work of French MEPs does deserve special

6.3.1 The Impact of the Cumul des Mandats

If the parties are to be held somewhat responsible for their short-sighted usage
of European elections for domestic political gains, then the tendency of
individual French politicians to accumulate multiple offices concurrently
must also bear some of the blame. The French system of the cumul des mandats
is very much responsible for a large portion of the volatility among French
MEPs. Under this practice, French politicians are allowed to hold multiple
elected positions simultaneously, although certain combinations are prohib-
ited. While the office of MEP and French national MP has technically been
incompatible with the dual mandate since 1984, a plurality of French MEPs
and MPs continue to hold regional and local offices alongside their national
and European mandates. By 2003, 91 per cent of all French MPs still retained
multiple mandates—a whopping 41 per cent of the MPs in the 2002–2007
Assemblée also served as the mayor of their locality. Similarly, 44 per cent of
MEPs held at least one local position during the course of their European
mandate, from 2004 to 2009 (Navarro 2009c).
Historically, the dual mandate was a matter of necessity for poorly paid MPs,
as well as a way of connecting national policy makers with local and regional
concerns. However, the abuse of the practice in recent years has left the
mayors of major urban areas splitting time between running their municipal-
ities and debating national legislation. While somewhat forgivable in national
politics, given the Assemblée and Sénat’s relatively short legislative calendars,
the pressure on MEPs to retain local mandates as a way of keeping a foot in

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament



MEP Observations
Per cent MEPs





Seek Re-election Seek MP Election

Seek National Executive Number of MEPs

Figure 6.2. MEP ambition over time, French MEPs, 1979–2009

national politics, while simultaneously commuting to committee meetings in

Brussels and plenary votes in Strasbourg, raises major doubts about the ability
of politicians to successfully do their jobs.
The sizeable share of MEPs continuing the exercise of the cumul des mandats
can also shed light on the eventual ambition of these politicians. For example,
if we were to examine the life of a French MEP with no other mandate and
whose family had purchased a flat in Brussels and was sending their children
to school there and then contrast her with an MEP who continued to serve as
the mayor of a sizeable town in the Atlantic southwest, we might expect one
MEP to have different future political aims than the other. The tendency for
French MEPs to use the EP in concert with a local position, as a way of saving a
spot in national politics for a later run or as a temporary pit stop outside of the
Hexagon, is far from anecdotal.
As Figure 6.2 demonstrates, roughly 30 per cent of all French MEPs since
1979 have made a run for either a national legislative or executive position,
following the conclusion of their respective mandates in the EP. Although
Figure 6.2 indicates a decline in the total number of French politicians having
served in each term, as systems like the tourniquet fall out of favour with party
bosses, the news for turnover among French MEPs is far from rosy. As sug-
gested, the high turnover among French MEPs is likely a combination of
political parties, individual politicians, and the French system itself. In the
unitary French system, local politicians accumulate subnational positions as a
way of securing bailiwicks for national campaigns.

French MEPs and the Effect of High Turnover

The funnel to Paris also works from above, however, as a number of inex-
perienced French politicians have been groomed by their parties in the EP for
an eventual national run. Many current and recent members of the French
cabinet—from Pierre Moscovici to Elisabeth Guigou and Harlem Désir—all
built their political careers in the EP, before securing positions in the national
government. As one French MEP put it, regardless of her own personal ambi-
tions for future service in the EP, a renewal of her mandate in 2014 will likely
have more to do with her party’s needs than her own.4 As already mentioned,
the 2004 move to split the national party lists for French MEP elections into
smaller regional ones has aided somewhat in releasing the stranglehold of the
national party—as MEPs stand a slightly better chance of creating an individ-
ual profile and thereby retaining their position. Nonetheless, satisfying the
national party—particularly within the UMP—remains a key to retaining
one’s position in the EP.
In sum, the highly centralized French party system appears to be both a
consequence of and a continuing factor in France’s legacy of centralized,
unitary policy making—offering support for H3. Traditionally used by the
national French party as a reserve, a reward, or a punishment, the French
delegation to the EP continues to face a tough road to fully utilizing the
powers of the institution that are available to them.

6.4 Why High Turnover Hurts the French (H4–H6)

So far, I have documented the above average turnover present among French
MEPs, as well as its relation to the structure of French national political parties
and party politics. While the incidence of extreme party dominance and a
persisting cumul des mandats system may present normative concerns for
those worried about the quality of representation and the internal dynamics
of party democracy, it is also worth noting that high volatility among MEPs
also comes with the more mechanical outcome of stunting the possibility of
seniority within the EP. As both Costa and Kerrouche (2009) and Kerrouche
et al. (2011) have shown in their respective studies of the French national
legislature, parliamentary professionalization usually correlates with growth
in member seniority. This has clearly not been the case among French MEPs.
As demonstrated in Figure 6.3, the percentage of French MEPs having served
at least one previous elected term in the EP is much lower than in the German
delegation, across all waves of the EP. The result, as supported by the full
empirical analysis in Chapter 5, is a subpar number of reports concluded by
French MEPs. Whether or not the European political classes view the EP as a
prestigious and worthwhile institution is a matter of personal taste, but it is
clear from the snapshot provided by Figures 6.1–6.3 that higher turnover

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament


Average Reports per MEP




0 1

EP 1 EP 2 EP 3 EP 4 EP 5 EP 6 EP 7
EP Wave
France, Seniority Germany, Seniority
Poland, Seniority France, Reports
Germany, Reports Poland, Reports

Figure 6.3. Seniority and report allocation, MEPs, 1979–2014

among French MEPs comes with the cost of a lack of influence in EU policy
making. As the EP continues to strengthen its legislative power vis-à-vis the
other European institutions, as well as the national parliaments, it is impera-
tive that a separate culture of French politicians is both interested and allowed
to participate in elected European politics but permitted to develop. While
French MEPs do not show below-average levels of education, their compara-
tive lack of seniority and committee reports demonstrates the relevance of H5
and H6.
On the flipside, reconsider the data presented in Table 6.4 with an eye for
the highest performing French MEPs that also exited the legislature early. For
even the most productive of MEPs, such as Moscovici and Fruteau, high-
profile internal positions and hefty committee responsibilities were quickly
put aside in favour of a seat in the Palais Bourbon. The decision for a top MEP to
leave Brussels early to re-join the ranks of national political life would be
unthinkable for most German politicians, as will be discussed in Chapter 7.

6.5 Conclusion

This chapter has set the tone for the remaining substantive portions of the
book, by introducing a set of three comparative case studies within which I am
able to illustrate national nuance and variations as they apply to my theory of
MEP behaviour. While France, Germany, and Poland are each among the
largest national delegations to the EP, they also contain many internal

French MEPs and the Effect of High Turnover

differences. France is a unitary state with a dominant and highly centralized

national party system. Germany is a federal country that features political
parties already adept at working at multiple levels of office. And Poland, while
institutionally more similar to the French, is impacted by its recent accession
to the EU, as well as by the prestige and pay associated with holding an EU
In this chapter, I have found some support for each of my hypotheses as
pertains to French MEPs. While the French national legislature arguably pro-
fessionalized later than the EP in some ways, the increasing power of the EP
under co-decision has contributed to a growing core of careerist French MEPs.
However, even veteran MEPs face the possibility of de-selection—or funnel-
ling into national government—by their parties. France’s strong and central-
ized party organization is likely responsible for this, and even the creation of
regional lists for EP elections has done little to curb the strength of national
parties to de-select MEPs—or to select newly elected politicians—for electoral
lists. All of this leads to a situation in which French MEPs underperform in the
committee work phases of the EP, relative to their size, which reduces not only
the ability of French MEPs to do their work, but also to represent the will of
their constituency. In Chapter 7 I shift my focus to Germany.


1. Values for the closest national contest to a given European election are used. The
1990 German federal elections were not listed in Table 6.2 due to the large influx of
new legislators from former East Germany.
2. Translated by the author from the original French: ‘Un eurodéputé a aujourd’hui plus de
pouvoir vis-à-vis des politiques publiques qu’un parlementaire national mais rares sont les
députés et sénateurs français qui échangeraient leurs postes’.
3. French MP, personal interview, 15 November 2011, Assemblée nationale, Paris.
4. MEP, personal interview, 26 April 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.


German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority

If the French MEPs continue to be somewhat of the black sheep among the
family of European legislators, then their neighbours across the Rhine are the
comparatively favoured sons and daughters in the EP’s rise to prominence. Not
only have national politicians from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s three successive
governments spearheaded European economic policy responses in the Council,
following the financial crisis of the late 2000s, but German MEPs have also
served at the helm of the elected legislature, occupying key internal positions,
from committee chairmanships to group leaders and even multiple terms of
the EP presidency. Accordingly, this chapter examines the relationship between
the career behaviour of German MEPs—which has itself remained remarkably
stable, as compared with most other major West European delegations—and the
degree of success and influence accorded to Germans serving in the EP.
As in Chapter 6 on France, I revisit the connection between legislative pro-
fessionalization, federalism, and policy-making power. My discussion illus-
trates not only that Germany has succeeded in creating a distinct class of
politicians, interested predominantly in EP service, but that this stability has
led the German delegation to champion its interests in the EU decision-making
processes. With their comparatively high rates of re-election seeking to the EP
and little exchange between national and European legislative bodies, the
Germans have accrued an impressive portfolio of lifelong MEPs who are able
to expend their personal political capital in a manner currently unthinkable for
the French delegation. However, a recent influx of minor parties during the
2014 EP elections may yet call into question whether or not German MEPs will
remain the dominant force in EP politics for years to come.

7.1 High Professionalization, Low Turnover (H1 and H2)

The first two hypotheses explored by this project suggest that legislatures with
high degrees of power (H1) and professionalization (H2) will attract legislators
German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority

interested in building extended careers within them. As German federalism

offers multiple geographical levels for powerful and professional political
offices to exist, I use the first section to discuss the comparative degrees of
power, professionalization, and prestige available to German politicians at the
regional, national, and supranational levels. In so doing, I demonstrate that
Germany’s traditionally high degree of professionalization and power avail-
able to politicians at both the regional and national levels has been effectively
replicated on the comparatively newer European legislative level and has done
little to upset the traditional balance of politicians between multiple levels
of office.

7.1.1 Multi-Level Careers within Germany

Borchert and Stolz (2011a) attempt to account for the low degree of inter-
level movement witnessed on the part of German politicians. Unlike in the
American federal model, surprisingly few German politicians develop elected
experience at the regional and local levels prior to seeking national office.
Part of the explanation for this centres upon the fact that a large portion of
Germany’s legislative professionalization actually originated at the regional
level. During the imperial period between 1871 and 1918, the national
Reichstag was an unpaid office, while members of a regional Landtag could
be paid a living wage. This was intended to maintain an aristocratic and
conservative leadership in the national legislature that would not rely upon
the position as a source of income; however, it did also present the possibil-
ity that a man could live ‘from’ politics—to borrow from Weber—if the
correct position was sought after at the regional level. Furthermore, the
unpaid national legislature, in tandem with the compensated regional legis-
lature, prompted a high degree of office accumulation across multiple levels
of government that is not unlike the cumul des mandats phenomenon still
witnessed in France today (Navarro 2009c).
Once national legislative salaries began to be paid under the Weimar Repub-
lic, the regional legislatures became comparatively less viable for maintaining
a full career in politics. This second period lasted until the German Constitu-
tional Court ruled in 1975 that members of a regional Landtag were perform-
ing a full-time job and should be paid accordingly. Since then, the regional
and national levels of government have seen both a decline in the accumula-
tion of offices across multiple levels, as well as a drop in the movement of
politicians across these different levels of elected government (Borchert and
Stolz 2011a). So, how does this trend relate to H1 and H2?
Unlike in the French case, both the national German Bundestag and regional
Landtag have been relatively well professionalized for decades. Although the
post-1945 era brought a wave of younger politicians into elected politics from

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

the regions encompassed by the former West Germany, volatility in Bonn’s

Bundestag remained low, with a majority of West German MPs seeking mul-
tiple terms of office at the time of German reunification in 1990. West German
MP salaries were among the highest in Europe, and MPs enjoyed an average of
six assistants each by the early 1990s—higher than most national MPs in
Europe still enjoy today (Saalfeld 1997). Even if the challenges of reunification
brought in less politically experienced MPs from the former East Germany, the
German Bundestag has been consistently viewed as a highly professional
legislature of skilled and experienced politicians (Patzelt 1997). Incumbency
rates have remained similarly high in the German EP delegation, aside from a
brief dip following German reunification. This may suggest that the theories
put forth by H1 and H2 operate similarly at each level of German representa-
tion, but quite differently from that of France.
Beyond being simply a matter of comparatively high professionalization,
the institutional complexities of German federalism have also long suggested
a professional purpose to be found at other levels of office, such as in the
regional Landtag. Directly integrated into the national legislative apparatus,
the German regional parliaments, in concert with the upper house of the
federal Bundesrat, have enjoyed a privileged veto over legislation pertaining
to regional policy-making powers since the drafting of the Grundgesetz in
1949. The German regions are also privileged in their ability to comment
directly on European legislation pertaining to these competences, as detailed
by Cygan (2001). The result is a national career structure where regional and
national political careers can be viewed as equally prestigious by politicians, if
functionally somewhat distinct (Müller and Saalfeld 1997; Saalfeld 1997).
Finally, the opportunity structures available for political advancement in
Germany suggest that most politicians advance in their careers not between
levels—as Schlesinger might have expected to be the case—but within levels
(Borchert and Stolz 2011b). As detailed by Kaiser and Fischer (2009), recruit-
ment of both federal and regional executives has typically taken place from
among a pool of legislators found at that level of government. Federal ministers
have mostly come from the Bundestag and regional ministers from the Land-
tag. Although ‘level switching’ has increased somewhat under the most recent
two German chancellors—whose cabinets have actually featured a number of
former regional governors—little opportunity for career advancement
remains for German politicians wishing to change from the regional to the
national level, unless they are already holding a position in their regional
Within the legislature, Trampusch (2005) explains that any increasing vola-
tility of German MP membership in legislative committees is a product of a
similar phenomenon: committee specialization and the traditional ties with
social partners from the neo-corporatist system are in decline, as German

German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority

politicians increasingly cater to party bosses, with the hope of moving up the
ranks and into more powerful ministerial positions. Therefore, in addressing
the career behaviours of German MEPs, it might be wise to consider not the
relationships between the different possible levels of office that are available to
elected politicians, but how German MEPs cater to the portions of their party
organization that will promote them within the EP and re-nominate them for
future election. I return to this discussion in the following section.
If the nature of German federalism places little emphasis on differing levels
of prestige, but rather attempts to differentiate politicians with interests in
either regional or national policy making, then the ability of German politi-
cians to self-select into a given professional level and focus on intra-level
advancement may only be relevant to our discussion of German MEPs and
their comparatively low levels of volatility. As displayed in Figure 7.1, the
salary of both German national MPs and MEPs has remained relatively con-
sistent between 1979 and 2014, as did rates of re-election seeking among the
delegation, with a majority of German MEPs seeking re-election at the con-
clusion of each term. Even more striking is the comparatively low number of
German MEPs who sought national legislative careers directly following their
EP mandate, with numbers well below 10 per cent of German MEPs seeking a
national mandate following each wave of the EP.
If we consider the state of affairs present in German national politics,
with politicians choosing to specialize at either a local or national level of
elected office—both of which contain real power and a cadre of professional
2400 4800 7200 9600 12000

Monthly Salary (2010 US PPs)

Per cent Outgoing MEPs



Seek EP Re-election Seek MP Election

Monthly Salary

Figure 7.1. The effect of time and salary on ambition, German MEPs, 1979–2014

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

politicians—then we might view the stability of German MEP careers as

simply evidence of the addition of another level of elected government, able
to attract yet another set of politicians—this time, with a specific interest in
European policy making. Further, the existence of multiple levels of elected
government in Germany would seem to have diminishing effects on the
relative level of prestige associated with desiring a position only in national
Just as Saalfeld’s (1997) work suggests little difference in the level of prestige
between the Landtag and Bundestag, nor is a career in the EP something to scoff
at. As one German MEP put it, ‘the European Parliament and the national
parliament are on different levels; not higher than the other, just different’.1
Therefore, the puzzle that remains is not ‘Why do Germans switch levels of
office so infrequently?’ but rather, ‘How do party organizations differentiate
between which politicians are best able to serve at which different level of

7.2 All Politics Is Local? Or, How German MEPs

Circumvent Berlin (H3)

It would be naïve to assume that all German voters view the prestige of their
MEP as equal to that of their MP, just as it would be naïve to assume that all
French MEPs yearn only to work in Paris and have no respect for the European
project. Nonetheless, an intervening variable seems to have impacted on the
German political class in such a way that German politicians are more capable
than the French of being selected for the level of office that is most interesting
to them and thus controlling their own personal ambitions in a way that
reveals a comparatively high degree of individual agency. If the French case
study demonstrated a situation of extreme dominance by the national parties,
with committed MEPs losing seats to party loyalists and EP seats reserved to
keep mid-level politicians in the system until their entry into mainstream
national politics, then the defining difference in the German case is a party
system in which the national parties have comparatively less direct sway over
the lives of their current and aspiring MEPs.
As already discussed in Chapter 4, a major institutional difference between
France and Germany is the historic presence of federalism in the latter. A by-
product of German federalism for the organization of party contests is the
division of EP elections into distinct regional units, who select candidates for
EP office at a de-centralized level that is rarely overturned by the central party
leadership. For politicians from the Christian democratic parties, lists are even
drafted exclusively at the regional level. As in federal elections, no national
list for politicians from the CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union, Christian

German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority

Democratic Union) and CSU (Christlich Sozialistiche Union, Christian Social

Union) exists at the European level, and thus the possibility of central party
leaders to micromanage list formation is greatly reduced.
In this way, access to German electoral lists for the EP is comparatively easier
than in a centralized system such as in France—one need only connections
and sway with local party bosses. As one MEP without any prior elected
experience, but sizeable local business connections, put it, ‘It would be
unthinkable of someone my age with no experience’ in politics to run for
national office in most countries.2 This particular MEP had even managed to
unseat a repeat candidate and party darling, because the regional audience was
small enough that he needed only to lobby a handful of key individuals on his
home turf to be selected. While a connection in Berlin would certainly do no
harm, almost all of the German MEPs interviewed over the course of the
project told a similar story of having petitioned their local party selection
committee for access onto the EP ballot.
When asked why they were interested in the EP, and not in national
politics, most of the German MEPs interviewed also revealed a specific policy
interest that was addressed most directly at the European level. One, an
enthusiast of farming and agricultural issues, said that he had ‘never con-
sidered’ a run in national politics—petitioning his local party for a spot on the
ballot as early as 1979. In fact, this individual was so committed to the
European project that he stood for election three successive times, before he
was able to win a seat in the EP—never once trying his hand at another level
of office.3
Another, having spent considerable time abroad as a child and interested in
German politics from the outside, used her foreign language credentials and
travel experience to supplement for the lack of a pre-existing political resumé.
Her personal role as an MEP paralleled her professional training as an
educator, as she felt that she was committed to educating her constituents
about what was happening in Europe. Ironically, her broader focus on con-
stituent service was so aggressive that her party eventually asked her to stand
for the party in a federal election—surely an outlier among her colleagues in
the Bundestag.4
Finally, a former regional politician, whose work on European labour rights
in her region’s Landtag was identified by her party as someone better suited for
working at the European level, similarly accepted her party’s invitation to
stand for EP election—an opportunity that she never dreamed would be
possible.5 In each of these cases, a combination of interest in European
policy-making areas and the support of local party members ensured ballot
access and electoral success at the European level.
In fact, with few institutional impediments for candidate selection at the
European level and an appropriate match between the supply of seats and the

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament



MEP Observations
Per cent MEPs




Seek Re-election Seek MP Election
Seek National Executive Number of MEPs

Figure 7.2. MEP ambition over time, German MEPs, 1979–2009

career demands of a Euro-enthusiast politician, it is hardly surprising that the

German delegation to the EP has seen among the lowest levels of member
turnover over time. As suggested by Figure 7.2, both the number of German
MEPs cycling through the EP, as well as the percentage seeking re-election
over time, have remained remarkably stable—suggesting that German MEPs
wish not only to remain in office for a complete term, but that they also
intend to seek multiple terms. Also notable are the extremely low numbers of
German MEPs who sought a national position, be it legislative or executive,
after their time in the EP. However, what leads parties to identify which
outgoing German MEPs are worth keeping on the ballot for future EP

7.2.1 Productivity and List Placement

While research on all three levels of elected government in Germany suggests
that politicians are often ‘matched’ with an office in which they can be most
effective, how might we analyse German MEPs to see if their productivity and
behaviour in the legislature leads us to believe that they are, in fact, well suited
for the job? Table 7.1 examines the relationship between legislative produc-
tivity, leadership initiative, and list placement for the best- and worst-placed
outgoing MEPs from the CDU/CSU lists, following the 2009–2014 wave of
the EP.
The first six MEPs listed in Table 7.1 were each selected as regional list leaders
in a region with at least two currently sitting MEPs from the CDU/CSU.

German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority

Table 7.1. MEP involvement and list placement in the CDU/CSU, 2014

MEP name Regional Terms Reports Leadership Re-elected,

rank completed (codec.) 2014

Ferber 1 4 2 (2) Bureau; Del. V-C Yes

Langen 1 4 3 (2) Bureau; Del. Ch. Yes
Mann 1 4 1 (0) Com. V-C; Del. V-C Yes
Reul 1 2 13 (0) Bureau; Del. Ch. Yes
Wieland 1 4 0 (0) Bureau; EP VP Yes
Winkler 1 1 2 (0) (none) Yes
Balz 2 1 3 (1) (none) Yes
Quisthoudt-Rowohl 3 5 (1 partial) 3 (2) (none) Yes
Ulmer 6 2 3 (1) Del. V-C No
Kastler 7 3 (2 partial) 1 (1) (none) No
Florenz 8 5 2 (2) Bureau Yes

Source: author’s own calculations

The banner politicians from the largest party in the German delegation, we
might expect these politicians to be among the CDU/CSU’s most influential
and visible members of the EP—protected by the party to remain in their
current role and most interested in building an extended career at the Euro-
pean level. As suggested by the data, this seems to be the case. All but one of
the top MEPs from the CDU/CSU have served as rapporteur on their commit-
tees, and many of these reports were powerful pieces of legislation to be
decided under the co-decision procedure. Nearly all have served in the EP for
a number of years and all veteran MEPs among them also held visible offices
within the 2009–2014 EP, from members of the Bureau to committee and
delegation postings; one even served as a vice president for the EP. As such,
their placement at the top of regional lists is far from surprising and ensured
their re-election. In comparison with the construction of French electoral lists,
as discussed in Chapter 6, the treatment of veteran German MEPs is already
visibly distinct.
More interesting, however, is an analysis of the MEPs that were not well
placed on their regional lists. While we might expect this to indicate the
presence of disfavour from the national party or the lack of MEP ‘match’
with their job, it seems like most of the outgoing MEPs from the CDU/CSU
that were placed lower on the regional lists had still been productive rappor-
teurs, even though relatively fewer had held institutional leadership positions.
Visibility and name recognition may have helped or hurt some of these cases.
While MEP Quisthoudt-Rowohl was able to overcome a relatively low regional
placement and secure re-election in 2014, she likely benefitted from her
experience of more than twenty-five years in the EP, as well as her former
position as an EP quaestor. Conversely, the little known MEP Kastler had only
completed one term fully (and two other partial terms) and likely did not
benefit from his relative anonymity.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Table 7.2. MEP involvement and list placement in the SPD, 2014

Name Rank Terms Reports Leadership Re-elected,

completed (codec.) 2014

Schulz 1 4 0 (0) Del. Ch.; EP Pres. Yes

Sippel 2 1 1 (1) (none) Yes
Bullmann 3 3 1 (0) (none) Yes
Westphal 4 1 1 (0) (none) Yes
Lange 5 4 2 (1) (none) Yes
Leinen 15 3 4 (2) Comm. Ch. Yes
Simon 17 1 3 (2) (none) Yes
Fleckenstein 19 1 2 (2) Del. Ch. Yes
Krehl 23 5 (1 partial) 1 (1) (none) Yes
Neuser 27 1 2 (0) (none) Yes

Source: author’s own calculations

Table 7.2 shows a similar story for the top- and bottom-ranked candidates
from the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, German Social Demo-
cratic Party). Unlike in the CDU/CSU, SPD candidates are ranked nationally
on a single list, which currently uses the ‘zigzag’ method of alternating
between male and female candidates, in order to encourage gender parity
among elected politicians. The top five SPD candidates in 2014 all shared
many traits with their colleagues in the CDU/CSU. Most were fairly productive
in their committee work and had served in the EP during multiple terms of
office. One, MEP Schulz, even served as the EP president between 2012 and
2014 and has been recently re-elected to the position. Beyond the case
of Schulz, German socialist MEPs seem to have held relatively fewer internal
positions than their CDU/CSU analogues, although as members of a
smaller party group during EP 7, fewer positions would have been available
to them.
Interestingly enough, no obvious differences existed between the SPD’s
best- and worst-placed incumbents seeking re-election in 2014. The five lowest
ranked incumbent MEPs were somewhat less senior than those at the top of
the list, but did include a long-time veteran MEP, productive rapporteurs,
and highly visible EP leaders. All were also re-elected to the EP. What, then,
might explain why these MEPs were placed so low on the list? As previously
mentioned, the SPD used a ‘zigzag’ method in 2014, meaning that some
incumbent men were shifted down the list to make room for newly selected
women to be listed in an alternating position. This reflects a very different
reality from the CDU/CSU lists, where each of the top candidates was
a male.
The SPD might also have anticipated that they would retain all of their
outgoing members, as the 2013 federal elections returned the party to a
grand coalition on the national level and provided the EP delegation with

German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority

some momentum going into May 2014. This turned out to be true, as the
SPD was able to increase the number of MEPs from the party by four for
the 2014–2019 period. Finally, a more nationally focused SPD may simply
have deleted outgoing MEPs that were either unproductive or disfavoured
by the party from their lists entirely. While it is too early to account
for each of the outgoing MEPs that were not re-selected to appear on the
2014 list, anecdotal evidence suggests that this may be a viable
Finally, we can perform a similar analysis of top and bottom candidates for
the smaller incumbent parties in 2014 (Table 7.3). Here, the story appears to
be the most straightforward. Having been eliminated from the Bundestag
entirely in 2013, the FDP (Freie Demokratische Partei, Free Democratic Party)
expected to lose most of its seats in the EP and tried to preserve the most well
known and influential of its members in the three seats that it was able to
salvage. Even the more junior MEP Thein, whose drafting of three co-deci-
sion reports would be impressive on any reasonable scale, was unable to
compete with the longer standing members of the party and was placed the
lowest among outgoing liberals—thereby losing her seat. Somewhat similar
to the SPD, all of the incumbent MEPs from the German greens (Büdnis ’90/
Die Grünen, Alliance ‘90/the Greens) and far-left party (Die Linke, the Left)
expected (and were) to be returned to the German EP delegation. Qualitative
differences in the degree of visibility and productivity between MEPs Harms
and Cramer, as well as MEPs Zimmer and Michels, however, are obvious
from Table 7.3.
Whatever the circumstances behind their position on the electoral lists,
outgoing German MEPs in 2014 were extremely impressive, on the whole.
Among them, we can observe group leaders, co-leaders, and vice leaders from
four different political groups—as well as EP president and 2014 Spitzenkandi-
dat (literally ‘top candidate’) for the Commission presidency, Martin Schulz.
With such high levels of visibility within the EP and such low levels of MEP
turnover, it is worth reminding ourselves of the benefits of seniority and
stability when it comes to the German delegation.

Table 7.3. MEP involvement and list placement in select German parties, 2014

Party Name Rank Terms Reports Leadership Re-elected,

completed (codec.) 2014

FPD Graf Lambsdorff 1 2 7 (1) Group V-C Yes

FPD Thein 7 1 5 (3) (none) No
Die Grünen Harms 1 2 1 (0) Group Co-Ch. Yes
Die Grünen Cramer 10 2 3 (2) (none) Yes
Die Linke Zimmer 1 2 1 (0) Group Ch. Yes
Die Linke Michels 7 1 (partial) 0 (0) Comm. V-C Yes

Source: author’s own calculations

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

7.3 With Seniority Comes Power (H4–H6)

Recall Figure 6.3, in which the high German and low French rates of re-
election seeking were shown to track closely with their respective rapporteur-
ship allocations. In fact, as recently as 1999, German MEPs were observed to
be receiving twice the number of rapporteurships per session as an average
French MEP. Given the similar size and ideological distribution of these two
delegations, as well as their virtually identical educational profiles, it is likely
that considerable differences in French and Germany MEP seniority levels has
mostly driven this result. Between 1999 and 2009, roughly 70 per cent of
German MEPs had previously served in at least one term in the EP. The same
can be said for only 46 per cent of French MEPs during the same time period.
Recalling from Chapter 5 that a majority of newly elected MEPs are not
granted a rapporteurship, the comparative seniority of German MEPs has
placed the delegation into the EP driver’s seat, just as the legislature’s institu-
tional power is beginning to be fully acknowledged.
When German MEPs were quizzed on why they felt that they had been
granted so much influence in the drafting of reports in their own committees,
one noted the ‘special kind of person’ needed to successfully balance the
institutional complexities of the EP, the national party stance, the desires of
the transnational party group, and local constituents.6 Another former MEP
cited her ability to speak multiple languages as an asset needed to reach con-
sensus with multiple opinions on the committee.7 The juggling act calls for a
certain degree of pragmatism, experience, and connections to be sure. It is
unsurprising, then, that among the most senior of MEPs over time, many
were responsible for writing dozens of rapporteurships per session, while their
new colleagues were barely given any notice in the balance of committee work.
Yet another MEP discussed the importance of seniority as an indicator that
MEPs had been properly socialized to the character of the institution. Com-
menting on the presence of many new members since the EP’s 2004–2007
enlargement, he was shocked to see how ‘silly’ some of the new MEPs behaved
in committee meetings—refusing to debate respectfully with their colleagues
and using committee time inappropriately for political soapboxing.8 It is easy
to draw a parallel between such behaviour and the decreased likelihood that a
newly elected MEP, who does not understand the way that committee work in
the EP is successfully managed, will be granted an important rapporteurship.

7.3.1 Group Stability and Reliability

An additional factor that has likely impacted on German MEPs’ ability to
dominate the work being done in the EP is the stability not only of their
individual MEPs within the legislature, but also of the German national

German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority

Table 7.4. Membership of German political parties in EP party groups, 1979–2014

Party group EP 1 EP 2 EP 3 EP 4 EP 5 EP 6 EP 7


Green/ Die Grünen Die Grünen Die Grünen Die Grünen Die Grünen
Far Left PDS PDS Die Linke
Non-inscrit Die

Source: author’s own calculations

parties in the EP party groups. Table 7.4 displays the membership of German
political parties in EP party groups since 1979. The three main historical party
families—the current-day EPP (Christian Democrats), S&D (Socialist), and
ALDE (Liberal) groups—have been continuously populated by German MEPs
from the CDU/CSU, SPD, and FDP, respectively, except for two terms in which
the FDP was not elected to the EP. The German greens have also played a
major role in the creation and development of the EP’s green/regional bloc,
beginning with its inception during the 1989–1994 session of the EP. Why,
though, should it matter if German political parties remain in the same party
groups continuously?
Just as more senior MEPs are more likely to be awarded rapporteurships and
visible leadership roles in both committees and the parliament on the whole,
positions that have been awarded in proportion to party group size are then
divided among its many national party members. As most recently demon-
strated by the decision of the UK Conservative Party to leave the EPP group
and form the new ECR group in 2009, the departure dealt a major blow to the
number of committee positions and internal leadership roles controlled by
the UK Conservatives during the 7th EP. The consistent participation of the
German CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP, and Greens in the Christian Democrat, Social-
ist, Liberal, and Green groups (albeit under different names at different points
in time) has no doubt positively impacted on the ability of these national
parties to control key facets of the party group’s leadership.
The continuity of relations between the major party families and their
German colleagues is mirrored by a relative lack of fringe party involvement
by German MEPs in the other EP party groups. Germany did not send any
communists or MEPs from the far left to the EP until after German reunifica-
tion brought about the creation of the Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus
(Party of Democratic Socialism) and then Die Linke. It remains to be seen
whether Die Linke will remain a leading member of the EP’s far-left group,

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

although MEP Zimmer was the group’s Spitzenkandidat for the 2014 election.
Meanwhile, the momentary success of the far-right Die Republikaner (Repub-
licans) party sent MEPs from Germany only during the 1989–1994 session.
In none of the first seven sessions of the EP has Germany witnessed the
participation of a major Eurosceptic party in its national delegation. None-
theless, the removal of the five per cent electoral threshold for German parties
to win a seat in the EP, just prior to the 2014 elections, has allowed for the
participation of smaller parties in the current EP. It is therefore worth consid-
ering how this institutional change may have opened the German delegation
to increased membership volatility in the coming session.

7.3.2 The Proliferation of Minor Parties in 2014

In February 2014, just three months before EP elections, the German Consti-
tutional Court ruled that electoral thresholds could not be imposed upon
German voters in an EP election.9 This decision brought three years of judicial
proceedings to a close, in which the threshold for entry into the EP for German
parties was lowered first from five to three per cent of the total national vote,
then eliminated entirely. While the Bundestag retains a similar threshold of five
per cent, the judges ruled that a threshold in the EP did not meet the consti-
tutional requirement of facilitating parliamentary activity, as the EP already
contains hundreds of parties from more than two dozen EU member states.
However well decided their ruling, the elimination of an electoral threshold for
EP elections held in Germany opened the flood gates for smaller parties
wishing to benefit from Germany’s large allocation of seats in the EP.
Table 7.5 displays the relative change for the seat allocation of German
national parties in the EP, following the 2014 elections. In all, seven addi-
tional German parties won seats in the election, bringing the number of

Table 7.5. Changes to the German EP delegation, 2014

Group Party Seats Change

S&D SPD 27 4
Freie Wähler 1 1
Greens/EFA Die Grünen 12 2
Ökologische-Demokratische 1 1
GUE/NGL Die Linke 7 1
Mensch Umwelt Tierschütz 1 1
ECR Alternative für Deutschland 7 7
Familien-Partei 1 1
Nationaldemokratische Partei 1 1

Source: author’s own calculations

German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority

political parties comprising the German EP delegation from five to twelve.

While the proliferation of parties has certainly taken a number of seats away
from the established members of the EP, it is worth examining the major
differences between these incoming MEPs and the more established EP poli-
ticians that they are replacing.
The ideological variation among the parties is remarkable. Some parties,
such as the Ökologische-Demokraten (Ecological Democrats)—a conservative
ecological movement—and the Freie Wähler (Free Voters)—a non-party list—
have strong regional bases of support in Bavaria and should integrate them-
selves into the work of the Greens/EFA and ALDE groups relatively easily.
Lesser known groups, such as the Mensch Umwelt Tierschütz (Humans, Envi-
ronment, and Animal Protection)—an animal protection group with a left-
wing bent—and the Familien-Partei (Families Party)—a religious socially con-
servative party—may remain less distinct from their EP party groups. The
Eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland (AfD, Alternative for Germany) may
find analogues in other anti-EU parties in the EP, while the comedic anti-
politics protest movement, Die PARTEI (The PARTY), and the far-right Nation-
aldemokraten (National Democratic Party) will be unlikely to have a major
impact from their seats in the NI group. How, then, do these smaller parties
factor into my theory for MEP electoral behaviour?
For the first time in unified Germany’s history, a handful of minor parties
have been able to secure seats in the EP—most of which are not even repre-
sented in a regional Landtag and none of which have any presence at all in the
Bundestag. Unlike the mainstream German parties discussed above, their
members likely have little specific interest in the EP as an office and are simply
using their positions in the EP to raise the visibility of the party. This visibility
in the EP is also the first means available to satisfy an eventual policy goal at
the national level, as discussed by a party staffer from one of the smaller
movements.10 However, many of the newly elected MEPs from these parties
have no previous political experience, particularly at a national level. Another
major difference is in the parties’ relatively small organizational size and
general lack of broad support, which also means that most of the incoming
MEPs from this collection of parties have already attempted to seek election in
many different levels of office. It is by pure happenstance that their parties
were able to win a seat in the EP before another legislature.
While some of the parties—particularly the AfD—do have a specific interest
in EU policy (in this case, the prevention of further EU integration), it will be
interesting to see how productive the German MEPs from these smaller parties
are in the 2009–2014 term. It will also be worth watching whether MEPs from
these parties behave differently when it comes to career tenure and further
political ambitions and whether their involvement in the EP has a negative

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

effect on the overall German proclivity for selecting highly productive MEPs
with a specific interest in service at the European level.

7.4 Conclusion

The puzzle of why the career behaviour of German MEPs differs so greatly
from that of their French colleagues remains highly complex and contains a
number of moving parts. This chapter has identified a number of the charac-
teristics that differ between the two systems and has attempted to trace their
impact on the behaviour of German MEPs, using the more general framework
of my theory for MEP career behaviour. In doing so, I have identified a number
of particularities found in the German case—some of which are shared by
other EU member states and others that are sui generis to Germany.
The degree of institutional professionalization, power, and prestige avail-
able to ambitious German politicians is surprisingly similar across the number
of different offices at the regional, national, and European levels. The typical
pathways observed among German MEPs wishing to advance in their career
also tend to occur within a given level of office, as opposed to between
multiple levels of representation. The German federal system, which allows
for these distinct levels of representation to exist, also fosters a party system
whose organizational complexity mirrors the diverse array of offices available
to German politicians. Finally, within the EP, the low degree of movement
between multiple levels of office leads to a fairly stable set of German MEPs
over time. In combination with the powers of seniority and specialization
demanded of ambitious MEPs, this has led to a disproportionately dominant
national delegation in the production of EP legislation—particularly as com-
pared with a similar large member state such as France.
Although the recent deletion of the German electoral threshold for EP
elections has allowed for a number of smaller parties to participate in the
German delegation, it remains to be seen what effect, if any, these smaller
parties will have on the ‘typical’ face of the German MEP. The addition of
these small parties—many of them with insufficient party organizations to
support their relatively few experienced politicians—also provides an interest-
ing segue to the third and final case of the Polish MEPs. While the increased
number of parties in the German delegation may suggest a party system that is
actually becoming less frozen than it once was, since joining in 2004, Poland’s
participation in the EP has become increasingly routinized and stable. In
Chapter 8 I move on to discuss the impact of Polish MEPs on the enlarged
European legislature.

German MEPs and the Benefits of Seniority


1. MEP, personal interview, 8 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.

2. MEP, personal interview, 19 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
3. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
4. MP, personal interview, 9 May 2012, Bundestag, Berlin.
5. MEP, personal interview, 8 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.
6. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
7. MP, personal interview, 9 May 2012, Bundestag, Berlin.
8. MEP, personal interview, 7 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
9. Available online at: <
10. Written communication with a party member, 11 July 2014.


Poland and the Future Face of the EP

Chapters 6 and 7 provided an analytical illustration for my institutional

theory of career behaviour in the European Parliament for the delegations of
France and Germany, respectively. While both countries are among the largest
founding members of the ECSC and are veterans of the European legislature—
having served in the EP since before the first direct elections in 1979—the
ambitions and professional behaviours of both French and German MEPs
have generally remained quite distinct from one another and remind us that
a complete understanding of MEPs and their behaviour comes not only from
institutional and ideological differences, but is also contingent upon differ-
ences in an MEP’s own national background. In this chapter, I move beyond
the veteran member states of the EU to evaluate my theory of career behaviour
as it applies to MEPs from Poland.
More than two decades after its transformation away from communist rule,
Polish democracy is thriving alongside a robustly expanding market economy
and is quickly assuming a leadership role in Central Europe. Polish MEPs have
participated in EU legislation for the past decade, and their participation in the
last three waves of European elections is also among the EP’s largest national
delegations, with fifty-one MEPs serving in the current legislature—making it
the largest national delegation to have joined the EP since Spain’s accession in
1986. As pertains to our analysis of MEP career behaviour, Poland’s status as a
relative newcomer to the EU presents us with some novel differences from the
French and German cases, but also many similarities.
Polish MEPs are constrained by a different set of national opportunity
structures than have already been observed in the other cases: Poland is
among the most recently democratized members of the EU, and it remains
part of a comparatively poorer region within Europe. Its political party system
also remains somewhat less stable than its French and German counterparts,
with numerous new parties, splinter movements, and the re-slating of party
coalitions observed since the early 1990s. Finally, because it remains one of
the less developed European economies, its politicians are more sensitive to
Poland and the Future Face of the EP

discrepancies in the level of institutional support and remuneration available

to legislators in Warsaw and Brussels.
Nonetheless, Polish MEPs bear many similarities to the West European cases
that have already been discussed. As observed in the French case, the careers of
Polish MEPs are highly beholden to selection practices and heavy manage-
ment by their national political parties. More in line with the German case,
however, is that rates of re-election seeking by Polish MEPs are noticeably
above average for the legislature (70.31 per cent of outgoing Polish MEPs
sought re-election in 2014, as compared with an overall figure of just 59.41
per cent in 2014), and rising numbers of would-be careerist Polish MEPs have
benefitted from the perks of seniority in the most recent legislatures—
promoting Poles to committee chairmanships, legislative quaestors, and
even the EP presidency. As such, an evaluation of the specific career ambitions
and professional behaviours of Polish MEPs can provide us with a great deal of
insight into the impact of the legislature’s professionalization on career behav-
iour, the benefits of seniority in the EP, and a continued role for the national
parties in the management of Polish MEPs and their careers.
As in the previous chapters, I begin this chapter with a discussion of how the
increasing power and professionalization of the EP is a familiar story for Polish
MEPs, as it closely mirrors their own recent national experiences with profes-
sionalization and institutionalization on the part of the Polish parliament in
the post-communist era. I then evaluate how Polish political parties have
reacted to the additional professional demands of EU membership—using a
mostly centralized style of candidate selection and recruitment to fill EP seats
with an increasing number of politicians that possess some degree of expertise
in EU affairs. I conclude the chapter with a discussion of the benefits of this
increasingly stable delegation of MEPs for the accrual of power and influence
within the current session of the EP.

8.1 Power, Professionalization, and Poles (H1 and H2)

The first two hypotheses presented in Chapter 2 propose that increases in

the EP’s power (H1) and degree of institutional professionalization (H2) lead
to a corresponding increase in the incidence of static ambition among the
behaviour of MEPs and thus a heightened presence of careerist MEPs in the
legislature. As in the French and German cases, the Polish case offers a great
deal of support for both of these hypotheses when their national delegation is
closely examined. While Polish MEPs would not have had the opportunity to
work in the EP before co-decision, they have nonetheless benefitted directly
from its comparatively high levels of professionalization and remuneration,
relative to what is available in the Polish national parliament. More striking,

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

however, is the degree to which the Polish delegation to the EP has quickly
stabilized in recent years—mirroring in many ways the processes of institu-
tional development seen in the recent democratization of the Polish Sejm and
In this first section, I examine the institutional professionalization of the
Polish national legislature since its democratization in the 1990s and compare
the process of political institutionalization and stabilization seen on this
national level to the Polish delegation in the EP. I also compare the face of
Polish MEPs to that of their national counterparts, as well as to the full EP, and
suggest that Polish MEPs have indeed become much more ‘European’ in their
delegation’s complexion. The analysis in this section presents evidence to
suggest that H1 and H2 are supported by the Polish case to some extent.

8.1.1 The Impact of Legislative Professionalization

in Warsaw and Brussels
Although Polish MEPs have only participated in the European Parliament since
after the substantial expansion of its legislative power under the Maastricht
and Amsterdam Treaties, the institutionalization and professionalization of
the EP and the corresponding stabilization of its membership bear many simi-
larities to concurrent developments in the Polish national parliament that were
witnessed during the 1990s and early 2000s. As such, the new demand for a
group of professional European legislatures, following Poland’s accession to the
EU in 2004, can be viewed as an analogue to the demand for a new class of
democratically elected legislators already undertaken on the national scene
during the previous decade.
As was the case in many of the former socialist countries of Central and
Eastern Europe, the Polish parliament that existed before the Second World
War continued to exist throughout the period of communist rule, although its
legislative importance and autonomy were strictly curtailed by the govern-
ment (Wasilewski and Betkiewicz 2014). Nonetheless, scholarship by Simon
and Olson (1980) suggests that the formal legislative institutions present in
the ‘minimal parliament’ that did exist at the close of the communist period
continued to persist as the blueprint for the first fully democratically elected
Sejm in 1991. As discussed by Olson (1999), a bicameral legislature—with
its new, freely elected Senat, added to the partially free Sejm—was created by
the communist regime in 1989 in an attempt to assuage the demands of
the pro-democratic Solidarity movement; however, the new chamber would
guarantee not only the institutional continuity of the Polish parliament
throughout the period of democratic transition, but also support the profes-
sional transition of many of its members.

Poland and the Future Face of the EP

The transition period, which contained the last Sejm under the communist
regime (1989–1991) and the first Sejm to be freely elected in its entirety
(1991–1993), saw an exceptionally high degree of turnover among its
members, with only a small minority of Polish MPs successfully standing for
re-election to the parliament throughout the early 1990s (Nalewajko and
Wesołowski 2007; Olson et al. 1998). While the newly democratic parliament
retained the familiar committee structures needed to pass and amend legisla-
tion, the high turnover on the part of MEPs led to corresponding ‘uncertain-
ties in the functioning of the committees in the policy process’ (Olson et al.
1998: 102). Not only were Polish MPs replaced with such frequency as to stunt
the mechanics of the legislative process, but also those who were elected were
unprepared for the demands of the job. As documented by Olson et al. (1998),
fewer than five per cent of the 1993 Sejm had any professional experience in
law or economics (see also Wasilewski and Betkiewicz 2014).
By the time the third democratic Sejm was elected in 1997, only thirty-three
out of 460 Polish MPs had remained in office for the entirety of the decade
of transition, and only eighty-five MPs had served in all three freely elected
terms of the legislature (Wesołowski and Mielczarek 1999). As suggested by
Nalewajko and Wesołowski (2007), the initial class of ‘transformation’ MPs
had all but turned over into the first cohort of ‘professional’ Polish legislators.
By 2005, a majority of incoming Polish MPs had served in a previous legisla-
tive session and represented the formation of a new core of politicians.
However, the professional backgrounds of most legislators remained less
based in economics and politics and more geared towards medical doctors
and scientists, although few were still exercising their original careers
(Nalewajko and Wesołowski 2007). To what, then, can we account for the
transition from a volatile cadre of inexperienced legislators to an increasingly
stable klatch of careerist MPs?
Similar to the story told in Chapters 2 and 3 of this volume, the Polish Sejm
and Senat of the 1990s underwent increases in their levels of institutional
professionalization—including longer legislative calendars, the further devel-
opment of a ‘well-bounded’ and internally complex committee system, and
increases in support staff and salaries. As the Polish Sejm began to look more
like a typical ‘West European’ parliament, so too did it develop a more coher-
ent class of careerist MPs (Shabad and Slomczynski 2002). As also observed in
other democratizing legislatures in the region, by the end of the first decade of
democracy in Poland, MPs were both seeking and winning re-election in
greater numbers, incumbency rates were on the rise, and the previous electoral
experience of MPs was increasing steadily with each subsequent election
(Shabad and Slomczynski 2002).
As of the 2007 national elections, almost all incoming Polish MPs exhibited
some degree of previous elected experience. Along with this increasingly

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

professional face of the Polish parliament also came greater productivity:

committees were passing larger numbers of bill proposals for plenary votes
and larger percentages of proposed bills were passed by the parliament. While
the constitutional shift of 1997 to increase the powers of the legislature vis-à-
vis the presidential portion of the executive branch no doubt contributed to
this increasingly powerful and professionalized parliament (all in Olson and
Norton 2007), we can observe a similar triumvirate of increased legislative
power, institutional professionalization, and stability of membership that is
both familiar and analogous to my own theory for the career behaviour of
MEPs. How, then, does the story of the Sejm’s rise to a functioning and
professional parliament mirror the increasing stability of Poland’s MEP dele-
gation between 2004 and 2014?

8.1.2 Who Are the Polish Legislators?

Table 8.1 displays descriptive data for members of the Polish Sejm and Polish
MEPs during the 2004–2014 period. MP data are taken directly from
Mansfeldová (2011) and then matched with similar time periods from the
original MEP dataset described in Chapter 3. An analysis of the data presented
suggests a number of interesting trends when the face of Polish MPs is com-
pared with their MEP colleagues. Although difficult to compare the incum-
bency rates of MPs directly with MEPs, it can be concluded that both
professions are experiencing increases in their membership stability. For
example, nearly 70 per cent of Polish MPs serving in the current Sejm are
incumbents from the previous term. This number is almost identical to
the percentage of outgoing Polish MEPs that sought re-election to the EP in
May 2014.
While the trend towards a professional core of incumbent MPs is confirmed
by the data, it is interesting to point out that Polish MPs are, on average, about
five years younger than their MEP counterparts. However, once Polish MEPs
are compared with the full set of MEPs for the 6th and 7th waves of the EP, the
average ages of the two groups are quite similar. Also notable is the relatively
low percentage of female politicians from Poland that serve in either
Finally, although difficult to compare directly, Table 8.1 displays differences
in the legislative productivity of Polish MPs and MEPs. Polish MEPs—
criticized for their lack of rapporteurships held during the 6th session (see,
for example, Szczepanik and Kucharczyk 2012)—increased their per capita rate
of producing committee reports during the 7th EP to a rate more in line with the
full average of all MEPs. Legislative productivity also increased in the Sejm,
with the average number of bills voted on (i.e. proposals passed by the commit-
tees to a full plenary vote) more than doubling between 2007 and 2011.

Poland and the Future Face of the EP

Table 8.1. Comparing the face of Polish MPs to Polish MEPs and all MEPs, 2004–2014

Polish MPs Polish MEPs All MEPs

2004–2009 Average age 49.2 54.58 55.47

Women (%) 20.2 16.67 30.41
Seniority (%) 58.3 0 35.43
Re-election (%) n/a 58.33 56.03
Average reports 1.54 1.82 2.5
2009–2014 Average age 47.8 53.31 55.11
Women (%) 20.2 20.37 35.43
Seniority (%) 67.7 38.89 37.81
Re-election (%) n/a 70.37 59.41
Average reports 3.28 2.48 2.56

Source: Polish MP figures taken from Mansfeldová (2011) for age, gender, and seniority in 2005–2007 Sejm and
2007–2011 waves; average reports calculated from publically available information on total bills passed in Sejm/number
of MPs

While the experience of Polish MPs roughly mirrors that of Polish MEPs, at
least in terms of the promotion of two stable and professional sets of politi-
cians, what explains the increasingly high levels of career stability and prod-
uctivity witnessed among Polish MEPs?

8.1.3 Power Talks: Perks and Prestige Talk Louder?

While democratization, institutional development, and increased profession-
alization might well explain the spike in membership stability and corre-
sponding productivity within the national parliament, a number of additional
factors might also explain what is driving increased rates of re-election seeking
and productivity among Polish MEPs. In particular, it is no secret that the
harmonization of MEP salaries in 2004 left a number of its members better off
financially than they might otherwise have been. Nowhere is this reality more
pronounced than in CEE expansion states, where MEPs have the possibility to
make as much as four times the base salary of a national MP back in their
home country.
While politicians run for office for a number of noble and altruistic reasons,
the material gains of becoming an MEP are especially clear for those hailing
from the 2004–2013 expansion members, of which Poland is by far the largest
net benefactor. To put it bluntly, between untraceable per diem allowances
and comparatively high base salaries, MEPs from countries such as Poland
‘could build an empire with all that money’.1 And many do, as recently told by
a British MEP whose Bulgarian colleague bragged over a dinner with col-
leagues about his newly constructed estate and ability to use EP money on a
hired car service between the new home and the airport upon each return
from Brussels.2

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Pr(Seek Re-election to EP)



Figure 8.1. The conditional effect of wave on seeking re-election, MEPs, 1979–2014

If personal anecdotes and popular media accounts of wasteful European

spending are to be believed, we might expect that the lavish material benefits
offered by the EP would have the strongest effect on delegations from the
relatively poorer expansion states, such as Poland. Indeed, the overall predi-
cated likelihood of seeking re-election to the EP for all members, as demon-
strated by Figure 8.1 (reprinted from Figure 3.3), does witness its highest
jump between the 2004–2009 and 2009–2014 waves of the EP, coinciding
with the first re-election wave for MEPs from enlargement countries. Consid-
ering the effect of salary increases controlled for by Figure 8.1, one might
infer that the EP’s harmonized salary increases, in concert with the addition
of poorer politicians, has had a pronounced increase on aggregate re-election-
seeking rates.
While re-election seeking among MEPs has risen along with the relative
salary increases experienced by a large proportion of its membership, and the
demands of the job and its influence on national political life have certainly
become more apparent in enlargement countries, such as Poland, an expla-
nation of the career behaviour of Polish MEPs would be incomplete without a
serious discussion of the Polish national parties as guiding principals, respon-
sible for recruiting and selecting a class of MEPs that not only desires a seat in
the EP, but is also well suited for it. Accordingly, I move on in the next section
to discuss the persistent role of the Polish national parties in influencing the
career behaviour of MEPs.

Poland and the Future Face of the EP

8.2 Party Organization and Candidate Management (H3)

Even as the contemporary Polish party system began to stabilize at the end of
the 1990s, Szczerbiak (2001) notes that what set Polish political parties apart
from others in the region was their tradition of strong national party
institutions—dominated by easily identifiable and powerful leaders—that
remained somewhat aloof in their responsiveness to the population. Nowhere
has the effect of the strong national parties of Poland been more clearly
demonstrated than in the recruitment and selection practices used by Polish
parties during EP elections. In this section, I discuss how the Polish national
electoral system has led to a set of highly centralized political parties, whose
leading personalities often exceed the ability of ideological debates to moti-
vate prospective voters. In so doing, I demonstrate how the general nature of
Polish party organization has led to a set of selection practices for both Polish
MPs and MEPs that is difficult to predict and highly incumbent upon the
central party leadership.

8.2.1 Party Organization and Institutional Constraints

In many respects, Poland’s minimal devolution of competencies to subna-
tional and local forms of political representation is familiar to the classic
French unitary system. As in France, the central executives of the national
political parties retain a disproportionate amount of influence and power over
their regional and local party affiliates when it comes to the management of
candidate-selection practices for both national and European office
(Sokołowski 2012). As such, the story of Polish MEP candidate recruitment
and selection bears many similarities to the discussion in Chapter 6. None-
theless, Polish electoral law does contain a few major differences from what is
observed in France. As such, any consideration of the candidate selection
practices of Polish parties must begin with a discussion of the Polish ballot
Marcinkiewicz (2014) discusses the impact of the Polish ballot system on
voting behaviour in Polish national elections. In both national and European
elections, Polish voters are required to both choose a party list and to indicate
a preference for a single candidate from that party’s full list. Seats are then
distributed to party lists in proportion to their winnings in the electoral
district and allocated to individual politicians in conjunction with the num-
ber of preference votes received. Theoretically, this should reduce the power of
the political party to secure seats for top candidates, as compared with a fully
closed list system.
Although many voters simply indicate a preference for the top candidate—
and thus maintain the order proposed by the party—Marcinkiewicz is able to

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

show that voters also sometimes have an incentive to reorder the list, by
preferring a lower ranked candidate, should that candidate be better known
on the national scene. In addition, the findings indicate an additional positive
effect for the last candidate on a regional list—as compared with candidates
obtaining only a middle placement—who benefit from the visibility of their
position at the end of the slate in a way that is similar to party list leaders (see
also work by Kunovich 2012).
In order to be certain that they will be victorious in winning a seat, the
Polish ballot structure suggests that ambitious politicians should follow one of
two strategies prior to the election: (1) secure a prime placement on the
election list (viz. at the top or the bottom of the list, but not in the middle)
or (2) establish a personal electoral connection with prospective voters. This
assumption is particularly true in the second-order European elections, where
voter participation is much lower than in national contests. As suggested by de
Vreese (2009), the lack of a strong opposition cleavage towards EU member-
ship in a country such as Poland further reduces interest in EP elections. It also
necessitates a stronger, more individualized logic of campaigning on the part
of would-be Polish MEPs.
Therefore, similar to the French case, we should expect that aspiring Polish
MEPs will be beholden to their parties for selection to the ballot. However,
unlike in the completely closed list system of France, Polish MEPs must rely
upon building an electoral connection with prospective voters that is much
more familiar to the style of campaigning found in a more personalized single-
member district electoral system. Łada and Fałkowska-Warska’s (2012) study
of the comparatively sophisticated use of social media and websites by Polish
MEPs suggests that Polish politicians have come to realize that they must
secure a personal connection with voters in order to combat both the poten-
tial costs of party management and popular disinterest.
If the institutional constraints put forth by Polish electoral law necessitate
that successful Polish MEPs must become masters of their own electoral
fortunes, at least to some extent, it is also incumbent upon national political
parties to select individual candidates that will draw positive attention to
party lists in the first place. An evaluation of the major political parties in
Poland reveals that the parties not only favour the selection of quality, experi-
enced candidates to their lists, but also that they are unafraid to recruit
candidates from outside of traditional political milieus, should it serve their
interests in attracting attention to the party list. It is for this reason that our
view of institutional constraints in Poland must also be informed by an
understanding of the highly centralized forms of candidate selection found
across the Polish political parties.

Poland and the Future Face of the EP

8.2.2 Centralized Candidate-Selection Practices

Sokołowski (2012) discusses the candidate-selection practices of the major
Polish parties in the lead up to the most recent 2011 national elections. Polish
parties conform to Hazan and Rahat’s (2006) classic expectation for the selec-
tion of candidates—at least on paper—as prospective candidates must first be
nominated as a potential candidate and then confirmed. As in most demo-
cratic party systems, all of the major Polish parties have distinct and identifia-
ble nomination and appointing bodies, which are displayed in Table 8.2. At
least formally, Polish parties behave as one might expect them to, in relation
to their varying ideologies.
The centre-right liberal-conservative PO (Platforma Obywatelska, Civic Plat-
form) first nominates candidates at a representative regional level, correspond-
ing roughly to the electoral district, before a central committee confirms the
list ordering for all of the districts. Its centrist and rural-agrarian coalition
partner, the PSL (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, Polish People’s Party), is even
more democratic in its selection—taken first at a local convention and then
confirmed at a national convention. The national conservative PiS (Prawo i
Sprawiedliwość, Law and Justice Party) relies upon an executive-dominated
system, where party leader Jarosław Kaczyński has effective veto power over
all nominations and appointments. Finally, the centre-left SLD (Sojusz Lewicy
Demokratycznej, Democratic Left Alliance)—the legacy establishment of the
communist Polish United Worker’s Party—manages both stages of candidate
recruitment and selection at the central level.
While formal differences would seem to suggest that some parties are more
decentralized than others in their candidate-selection strategies, qualitative
interviews with multiple experts in Polish national politics confirm that the
management of political careers by the national parties remains highly cen-
tralized in almost all cases. Moreover, in most cases, party delegates serving on
regional nominating committees also comprise national appointing bodies—
suggesting that core central leaders will still have an effective veto over
regional, subnational interests (Sokołowski 2012). Evidence from the candi-
date-selection decisions taken for the 2014 EP elections provides support for
this assumption.

Table 8.2. Candidate nomination practices in Poland

Party Nominating body Appointing body

PO Regional representative organ Central representative organ

PiS Regional executive organ Central executive organ
PSL Regional electoral convent National electoral convent
SLD Central executive organ Central representative organ

Source: Sokołowski 2012 (264)

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

8.2.3 Polish Candidate Selection in 2014

Chapter 4 discussed the hypothesis that MEPs from federal countries should
exhibit higher degrees of static ambition to remain in the EP than MEPs from
unitary countries, because political parties in federal systems tend to be more
decentralized and focused on identifying politicians best suited for working at
multiple levels of office. Although Poland is often identified as a unitary
country, its MEPs sought re-election to the 8th EP in surprisingly large num-
bers: only eleven of the outgoing fifty-one MEPs did not stand for re-election
in May 2014. How, then, can this finding be interpreted?
Although it is easy to focus on the large percentage of MEPs seeking
re-election—which could itself be well explained by the comparatively high degree
of professionalization, prestige, and compensation available to Polish MEPs—it is
perhaps more interesting to examine the role of national political parties in the
management of the eleven outgoing MEPs that did not stand for re-election. Of the
eleven MEPs not standing for re-election in 2014, all but two of them were
members of the PO. What explains this heavy exit from Poland’s ruling party?
The PO lost six seats in the 2014 elections, dropping from twenty-five to
nineteen MEPs. While the result can be mostly interpreted as a regression to a
mean level of support for the party—as Prime Minister Donald Tusk was at the
height of his popularity during the 2009 EP elections and has since decreased
in his favourability ratings—it also suggests that the PO realized that they
would likely win fewer seats in 2014 than in 2009 and shifted their candidate-
selection practices accordingly.
Tusk made a number of public statements prior to the 2014 elections, saying
that he did not believe that MEPs from his party should serve more than two
terms. Nonetheless, only four of the nine MEPs from his party that did not
stand for re-election in 2014 had already served two terms; moreover, many
more that did appear on the ballot had been in the EP since 2004. Among PO
MEPs not re-selected for the 2014 ballot, a few were very publicly de-selected—
such as outgoing vice president of the EP Jacek Protasiewicz, whose drunken
altercation in a German airport led to negative press for the party and repre-
sented a potential electoral liability. Others, such as Filip Kaczmarek, were
tipped by analysts to have bowed out of the EP elections in order to prepare for
a national run in the 2015 elections.
However, it is interesting that most of the remaining outgoing MEPs from the
party that were not re-selected were also among the party’s least productive in
the legislature. Most were relative newcomers to politics that had simply ridden
in on the coattails of the 2009 victory. By eliminating lower profile members and
shifting other lesser known politicians down the list, the evidence suggests a
general tendency for the PO to recruit MEPs best suited to do quality and visible
work in the EP, which will be discussed at greater length in the next section.

Poland and the Future Face of the EP

Furthermore, Tusk’s party clearly realized that it not only needed to

recruit quality MEPs to work in the EP, but that it also needed to maintain
the attention and interest of voters that were not attune to work being
done in the EP. Accordingly, the 2014 PO lists contained a number of notable
personalities from outside of politics, including Olympic swimmer Otylia
Je˛drzejczak, who was placed above outgoing MEP Tadeusz Zwiefka on their
regional list. Zwiefka would go on to retain his seat over the star athlete. Seven
other outgoing MEPs from the Civic Platform were not so lucky, losing their
seats to incoming politicians from the same party, due to poor placement on
the electoral lists.
Although the visibility of the PO’s 2014 shuffling of MEPs is notable for a
party of its size, it is far from the only one to witness large changes in its EP
membership since the 2009 election campaign. Among PiS MEPs, well-known
politician Konrad Szymański was de-selected from his regional list after a
dispute with national party boss Jarosław Kaczyński. Eight additional MEPs
that had been elected on mainstream 2009 lists also sought re-election under
the newly created Polska Razem (Poland Together), Twój Ruch—Europa Plus
(Your Movement—Europe Plus), and Solidarna Polska (United Poland) party
banners. Each of these new organizations represents the product of a splinter
group from one of the major parties—typically the result of a factional dispute
with the main party leadership. None of the splinter MEPs running on the
new platforms won re-election in 2014.
The previous discussion has suggested that Polish MEPs must not only
secure independent connections with voters in order to win elections, but
that they must also maintain the support of their parties. Both are key to
success in both the national and European elections—even when politicians
may well be suited for an EP position over an intra-party challenger. How,
then, do Polish MEPs differ from their MP colleagues? In the next section,
I examine differences between Polish politicians having served at the national
and EU levels, before discussing the impact of careerist Polish MEPs on the
balance of power within the European legislature.

8.2.4 Qualitative Differences between Polish MPs and MEPs

The relatively scant academic literature on Polish MEPs suggests a strong role
for political parties in the selection and management of their candidates at
both the national and European levels. Killingsworth et al. (2010) discuss work
done by Polish MEPs to commemorate nationally important events—such as
the Soviet massacre at Katyń or the creation of the Solidarność movement in
the 1980s—at the European level. Szczerbiak’s (2012) entire volume on Poland
in the EU is similarly concentrated on what Poland can bring to the EU, as
opposed to what impact the EU has had on Polish politics (see also Szczerbiak

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

and Bil 2009). While Poland’s misunderstood and troubled history is certainly
worthy of broader understanding, and the EU is a suitable forum to initiate a
number of these dialogues, it is clear that the use of the EU institutions as a
soapbox for Polish national political parties has had a negative effect on the
ability of Polish politicians to contribute to EU policy making as efficiently as
they might otherwise hope.
One former Polish MEP and current member of the Polish Sejm tells the story
of a national delegation ‘totally unprepared’ to work within the EP during the
2004–2009 term, lacking even an ‘elementary knowledge of Europe . . . and
[its] languages’. According to him, Polish MEPs ‘thought they were there to
fight for Poland’, not to participate in a continent-wide policy-making project
for consensus building. The same former MEP discussed with dismay the
dozens of Polish MEPs who lined up for selection on the EP’s security and
defence committee—an area in which both the EP and the EU in general have
limited power—thus forgoing the possibility of making a valuable contribu-
tion on a committee in which the EP has real possibilities of impacting
legislation that would eventually impact on Polish law.3 Another Polish
MEP put the situation somewhat differently, saying that he was glad to be
‘seen as a diplomat . . . someone sent by my country to represent Poland’s
Whether one takes the sceptical view of a misguided delegation, sent to be
the mouthpiece of the Polish national political platforms in a forum not
designed for such debates, or the more positive imagery of a collection of
national political legends and dignitaries, sent to bear witness to Poland’s
triumphant return to the heart of Europe, it is clear that the relationship
between Polish political parties, politicians, and the EP is quite different
from anything seen among the established members of Germany and France.
Polish politicians may not have developed a full grasp on the EP’s power and
its abilities (or lack thereof) to help Polish interests in EU debates, but the EU
and its institutions do seem to inspire some awe among the Polish political
elite, however misattributed in reality.

8.3 Benefits of Seniority (H5 and H6)

As in France, the Polish national parties have thus far remained supreme in the
recruitment and selection of Polish MEPs. One socialist MEP characterized the
decision to run as a ‘compromise between . . . [him and his party’s] wanting
him to be there’,5 while a member from the centre-right said his nomination
was a result of the national party identifying him as someone who could raise
support for the PO list in a region where he had already been particularly
active.6 Evidence from such interviews, as well as the descriptive data

Poland and the Future Face of the EP

presented above, suggests that Polish MEPs may not know quite what it is that
they are doing in Brussels, but certainly think that they stand to benefit from
it, while their national parties have aims well beyond the scope of the insti-
tution, although they are successful to the extent that both the EU and EP are
pervasive in the lives of at least some Poles. Also similar to the French case, in
which strong national parties dominate political careers, is that the jury
remains out on just what impact the Polish parties will have on the careers
of their MEPs, as well as their productivity and power within the legislature.
As observed in the French case, the strong influence of national political
parties on the career paths of Polish MEPs suggests that the EP continues to be
treated more as an extension to the national political discourse than as a
separate legislative arena. Moreover, Polish MEPs remain beholden to a set
of voters whose interest in European elections is among the lowest in the EU
(only 23.83 per cent of eligible Polish voters participated in the May 2014
elections). Nonetheless, the tendency by the major Polish parties (particularly
the centre-right PO party of former prime minister Donald Tusk) to re-select
the vast majority of outgoing MEPs for further election—and a correspond-
ingly decreasing turnover among Polish MEPs from 2004 to 2014—has led to a
marked growth in the national delegation’s abilities to influence EP policy
through the accrual of central leadership positions in the parliament.
Table 8.3 examines the distribution of MEP education, by highest degree
earned. As in Chapter 5, the assumption remains that more educated MEPs
will also be assigned more rapporteurships. This should be especially true of
Polish MEPs, whose relatively new position in the EP means that their lack of
seniority will certainly impact on their ability to draft committee reports. Data
from the EP website indicate that for the 6th EP, only three Polish MEPs (out of
fifty-nine) who served as rapporteur held anything less than a postgraduate
degree. This number increases only slightly to nine (out of fifty-four MEPs)
during the 7th term, although seven of the nine still held the equivalent of a
bachelor’s degree from a university. Two observations are particularly worth
noting: (1) education remains a powerful signal, particularly among newer
member states in the EP; however, (2) Polish MEPs were as educated, if not

Table 8.3. Highest degree of Polish and all MEPs, 2004–2014

EP 6 (2004–2009) EP 7 (2009–2014)

Polish MEPs (%) All MEPs (%) Polish MEPs (%) All MEPs (%)

Technical 1 (1.69) 65 (7.45) 2 (3.7) 73 (8.68)

Secondary 1 (1.69) 52 (5.96) 0 (0.00) 38 (4.51)
Bachelor’s 9 (15.25) 374 (39.79) 7 (12.96) 341 (40.55)
Postgraduate 48 (81.36) 381 (43.69) 45 (83.33) 389 (46.25)

Source: author’s own calculations

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

more so, than the average MEP during the two most recent sessions.7 The
average number of rapporteurships concluded by Polish MEPs also saw a rise
from 1.82 in the 6th session to 2.48 in the 7th session.
Finally, the stabilization of Polish MEPs continues to have an impact on
their profile in the 8th session of the EP. Poles will serve as one of the EP’s vice
presidents, two of its five quaestors, and three of its committee chairs. With
the decline of the UK Conservative Party in the 2014 EP elections, PiS not only
supplies the vice president from the conservative ECR group, but will also
supply a much larger portion of its membership. This will only encourage
additional involvement from the Polish delegation in the 2014–2019 term.

8.4 Conclusion

Chapters 6–8 have provided descriptive data, as well as some qualitative

illustrations for the claims made by the empirical chapters, as they apply to
the cases of MEPs from France, Germany, and Poland. France was presented as
a case in which strong national parties dominate the selection and advance-
ment strategies of their politicians, even at the expense of a clear loss of
influence for the legislating capacity of the delegation, both of which are the
by-product of a heavily centralized and unitary political system. The German
case, among the EP’s most productive in terms of rapporteurships, was pres-
ented as an example of how national systems, already used to working across
multiple levels of representative government, can adapt to the addition of new
layers of governance to the mutual benefit of national parties and individual
political careers alike. Finally, the Polish case foreshadowed what might be yet
to come in the development of MEP careers, as emerging national party
systems in Central and Eastern Europe clash with the aims and capacity of
the EU, creating yet another potential mismatch for individual ambition and
institutional capabilities.
If we return to an examination of the project’s central hypotheses, as
summarized in Table 6.1, we see a patchwork of support for each of the six
major hypotheses from among the three selected countries. Yet, twenty-four
additional countries were not mentioned in these chapters and may have
additional support for the hypotheses, if examined at a similarly national
level. Although the case selection used was certainly non-random, the vari-
ation in the systems explored can be viewed as a serious illustration of just
how diverse the national political systems of Europe still remain.
Before moving on to the conclusion, one additional anecdote in support
of Poles’ enthusiasm for the EU and its institutions arose entirely by happen-
stance during the interview stage for the data-collecting process of this project.
On my way to Poland in December 2011, I boarded a commuter flight in

Poland and the Future Face of the EP

Figure 8.2. Jerzy Buzek steps onto a Warsaw-bound aeroplane, to applause; author’s
own photograph

Copenhagen. Before the plane was allowed to take off, it backed away from the
gate and reopened the door, allowing one final passenger to board directly
from a motorcade brought out on the tarmac. Much to my surprise, the
additional passenger was none other than the EP’s outgoing president, Jerzy
Buzek, a member of the Polish Civic Platform, which itself is a member of both
the majority centre-right EPP bloc in the EP and the majority party within the
Sejm. Even more surprisingly, my fellow passengers actually recognized Presi-
dent Buzek and broke into a round of applause as he boarded the plane
(Figure 8.2).
I spent the next few weeks in Warsaw keeping an eye on the Polish media’s
coverage of the EU financial crisis and the fiscal pact negotiations that had just
begun to take shape during the many emergency summits held in Brussels
that winter. Throughout it all, I was struck by the number of times that a
current Polish MEP would appear on the national news broadcast or in the
newspapers, dutifully outlining the need for Poland to participate willingly in
the reshaping of the European monetary system. The centrality of Polish MEPs
to the dialogue at play in the Polish media was striking in comparison to the

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

characterization that I had already developed for the importance of MEPs in

France—sent to professional time-out in Brussels—or for the diligent and
highly specialized German MEP—amending complicated policy matters out-
side of the limelight.
While some of the empirical claims made in the previous chapters—such as
increases in the EP power of and its impact on re-election seeking or correl-
ations between advanced degrees and legislative productivity—may seem
trivial, it is remarkable that any empirical evidence can be found for institu-
tion-wide change in a relatively new legislative body that unites so many
differing national and political traditions. The accompanying case studies
have hopefully served as suitable illustrative companions for the quantitative
analysis chapters and provided additional weight to my arguments. In
Chapter 9 I summarize the major findings of the project, before discussing a
number of new research venues that this study has provoked.


1. MEP, personal interview, 17 March 2011, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.

2. MEP, personal interview, 22 March 2012, European Parliament, Brussels.
3. MP, personal interview, 20 December 2011, Sejm, Warsaw.
4. MEP, personal interview, 17 March 2011, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.
5. MEP, personal interview, 9 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.
6. MEP, personal interview, 8 June 2010, European Parliament, Brussels.
7. For a similar discussion of differences in the profiles of MEPs selected from post-2004
member states, see Beauvallet and Michon (2010).


Towards a Broader Appreciation for

Political Careers

The central aim of this book has been to ask how institutions and institutional
changes shape the behaviour of individuals. Within this very broad and
general framework, I have specifically examined the effect of developments
in the institutional structures of the European Parliament and its constituent
units on the regularized career behaviour of its membership. Individual poli-
ticians are the foot soldiers of powerful political institutions, yet their profes-
sional movements have been mostly overlooked by the broader literature. One
of the major aims of this book, therefore, has been to analyse change in the EP
from the inside out, tracing changes in its membership over time and explor-
ing the reasons for these changes.
By examining the career paths and professional behaviour of MEPs, how-
ever, I have offered concrete evidence of the EP’s changing institutional and
professional capacity, as well as examined the fingerprints of the EP’s many
component parts that also impact on the professional decisions of its mem-
bers: twenty-eight diverse member states, each with a richly varied national
party system, contributing individuals to serve in the evolving EU legislative
organ. In the remaining pages of the book, I briefly review the major findings
and contributions of this project, before suggesting how these findings might
contribute to further research on the topic.

9.1 Review of Major Findings

The book set out in Chapter 2 to craft a tripartite theory for the career behav-
iour of MEPs: the development of careerist politicians within the EP; the use of
the EP within the broader array of national and European offices; and the
benefits of stable membership within the EP for the balance of legislative
power. The six key hypotheses posited by the study stem from specific aspects
Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

of these three parts. The theory is derived and tested using assumptions from
rational choice—that is, MEPs are individual actors who make a rational
decision to further their professional careers, given the constraints and pres-
sures of the institutions in which they are embedded—as well as a respect for
the claims made by historical institutionalism—that is, institutions change
over time in response to exogenous historical developments.
Chapter 3 tested the first two hypotheses of institutional power and profes-
sionalization. H1 posited that an increase in the EP’s institutional power
would lead to growth in re-election seeking (‘static ambition’) on the part of
its membership, as politicians are attracted to work in a meaningful policy-
making institution and not simply a ‘talk shop’ parliament. Multi-level logis-
tic regression techniques using new data on the EP’s elected membership,
between 1979 and 2014, provided some evidence for this claim, particularly
after the advent of co-decision power—whereby the EP gained veto player
status over some proposed legislation—which was shown to have independ-
ently accounted for increased rates of re-election seeking on the part of MEPs,
even when various demographic and institutional factors were controlled for.
H2 posited that increases in the EP’s level of professionalization as a political
institution should also be expected to lead to increased rates of re-election
seeking, as Weberian MEPs seek out professional opportunities that allow
them not only to live ‘for’ politics, but also ‘from’ it. Here, the quantitative
results were somewhat mixed. The diverse salary structures offered to MEPs
based upon their country of origin mean that MEPs from historically low-
earning countries are more likely to respond to salary increases favourably and
seek re-election at higher rates. However, taxation of base salaries by national
political parties may actually have further equalized the possible effect of
salary differences between MEPs. Furthermore, the majority of EP members
were already presented with a high level of professionalization in their work as
an MEP as early as 1979 through a set of non-salary supports designed explic-
itly to smooth national salary disparities. Accordingly, most MEPs seem to
have been less affected by the modest real changes in their salaries, benefits,
and working demands between 1979 and 2014.
While longitudinal differences in MEP career behaviour were shown to
be less meaningful than expected, the data reveal persistent country-level
differences in the ways that national political parties treat MEP candidate
selection and recruitment. Chapter 4 offered empirical evidence for H3,
which posited that MEPs from either formally federal or functionally decen-
tralized countries would be more likely to seek re-election to the EP (and less
likely to quit the EP for a job in national politics). The mechanism explored by
this chapter assumes that political parties in federal and decentralized systems
have adapted their candidate selection and management practices to acknowl-
edge the varying demands and purviews of each level of representation.

Towards a Broader Appreciation for Political Careers

Conversely, highly unitary and centralized contexts should have party systems
more accustomed to funnelling candidates from the local to the national level.
The addition of the EP as a supranational level of representation likely only
serves as an extra layer of work on the way to the goal of national political
office. Logistic regression analysis confirmed H3, using a variety of measures
for both federalism and decentralization, and multinomial logistic regressions
showed the comparative likelihood that an MEP from a unitary (federal)
system would be more (less) likely to quit the EP in favour of a variety of
possible national offices.
Chapter 5 addressed the consequences of the diverse professional pathways
taken by MEPs on the balance of power within the EP’s committee legislation
process. H4 posited that MEPs with higher levels of education would be more
likely to be assigned committee reports—uniquely valuable in their ability
to direct the course of EU legislation from the Commission’s proposal to the
EP’s acceptance or rejection. The proposed mechanism suggests that more
educated MEPs will work more effectively with technically complex topics in
specific areas and be more generally inclined to researching and assembling a
balanced position on a given issue. H5 posited that seniority would also
provide MEPs with additional rapporteurships, as the institutional complexity
of the EP favours contributions from politicians accustomed to the particular
demands of the EP policy-making process.
Regression analysis using negative binomial logistic regression techniques
indicates clear support for education and seniority to positively impact the
individual accrual of rapporteurships across all waves and specifications,
although the effect of co-decision serves only to make report allocation
even more selective than before. This confirms the relationship posited by
H6 that education and seniority should matter more since the advent of
co-decision and is explored in more detail at the conclusion of the chapter,
using mid-level descriptive data from the balance of committee reports
under both the consultation and co-decision procedures between 2004 and
Finally, Chapters 6–8 attempted to clarify the main findings of the disserta-
tion as they pertain to the selected case studies of France, Germany, and
Poland. While France and Germany are both founding members of the Euro-
pean Coal and Steel Community, they diverge on everything from federal
organization to the dynamics of their political party systems and represent
the consequences of two ideal types of MEP career behaviour. French MEPs
have routinely sought re-election to the EP at lower rates than German MEPs
and have suffered the major consequence of reduced importance in the
committee report allocation process, relative to the country delegation’s size.
The Polish case study offers yet another glance of what may be to come from
the EP’s continued development, illustrating the enthusiastic—if somewhat

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

misunderstood—nature of EU support among the new member states of

Central and Eastern Europe.

9.2 Key Contributions of the Study

This project has provided a number of findings that are immediately relevant
to our understanding of the European Parliament and its membership. Par-
ticularly useful is the development of a fully comprehensive body of quanti-
tative data on MEPs containing information on individual backgrounds,
career choices, and professional involvement within the EP. The creation of
the dataset alone will hopefully further work on the EP and its members for
many years to come and is formatted in such a way that will allow researchers
to add additional information on future waves of the EP as it becomes
Figure 9.1 summarizes the key demographic changes witnessed in the EP
between 1979 and 2014. Some results are fairly intuitive. Similar to other
democratic parliaments, the EP has more than doubled its share of female
members from 15.84 per cent in 1979–1984 to 35.44 per cent during the
2009–2014 session. According to the EP, this figure has increased slightly to
36.88 per cent for incoming MEPs in July 2014.1 Also intuitive is the rise of
experienced MEPs returning to the EP, followed by slight declines in this rate
during EP4 (the 1995 enlargement) and EP6 (the 2004–2007 enlargements).
While the overall percentage of MEPs holding some degree of seniority has
% MEPs / Age


Seek Re-Election (%) Senior MEPs (%)
Average Age Women (%)

Figure 9.1. The face of the European Parliament

Towards a Broader Appreciation for Political Careers


20 40 60 80 100

Figure 9.2. Age at end of mandate, MEPs, 1979–2014

fluctuated along with the size of the legislature and the addition of new
countries to its membership, the rate of re-election seeking has continued to
increase since the late 1980s. The econometric analyses found in Chapter 3
suggest that the expansion of EP power under co-decision is at least partially
responsible for this positive trend.
One additional novel finding from the complete dataset is the relatively
steady distribution of MEP age over time. Figure 9.2 displays the distribution
of MEP age by country delegation between 1979 and 2014. Figures 9.3 and 9.4
display the same distribution charts for the 1979–1984 and 2009–2014
periods, respectively. Similar to the relatively flat line for mean age found in
Figure 9.1, the box plots in Figures 9.2–9.4 suggest that the EP is neither
growing older nor younger. This finding is in direct contrast to the conven-
tional wisdom of the EP as a ‘kindergarten’ or a ‘retirement home’. Once again,
the most interesting differences in age variation exist not over time but rather
between countries.
Figures 9.2 and 9.4 suggest that the youngest MEPs are also from the least
experienced EU member states—those that joined during the 2004–2013
enlargements. This reveals a number of trends that are at least partially con-
firmed by Chapter 8’s discussion of the Polish delegation. The face of
MEPs from Central and Eastern Europe is not one of a legacy political class—
with the exception of some former national leaders from each system—but
rather a clique of English-speaking, Western-educated, and youthful elites.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament


20 40 60 80 100

Figure 9.3. Age at end of mandate, MEPs, 1979–1984


20 40 60 80 100

Figure 9.4. Age at end of mandate, MEPs, 2009–2014

Conversely, Figures 9.3 and 9.4 suggest little change in the median age of
veteran delegations, with Greek and Italian MEPs consistently among the
EP’s oldest. As in the Chapter 4 discussion of national differences in candidate
selection and recruitment, the most major differences in the face of the EP
remain geographic and not temporal.

Towards a Broader Appreciation for Political Careers

The study also contributes to the growing body of work on individuals that
comprise political institutions that extends far beyond the EP. Scholars inter-
ested in the study of individual behaviour and its pertinence to topics including
candidate selection, federalism, legislative and committee behaviour, political
ambition, and institutional development will all find something of use in the
findings taken from this particular political venue. The EP, with its legacy of
thousands of current and former elected members from twenty-eight separate
political histories and traditions, is shown to develop and behave in a way that
will ring familiar to devotees of scholars from all regional contexts—even
within the bounds of this most eccentric of legislatures.
For as much as the project provides new sources of data and methodological
innovations for future analyses of both the EP and other political institutions,
it also is meant to connect and complement existing—yet often isolated—
research agendas in comparative politics more broadly. It provides the first
comprehensive analysis linking the institutional evolution of the EP with
generalizable changes in the career pathways of European politicians. It pro-
vides the first comprehensive analysis linking sources of national institutional
variation with observable differences in elected career paths at the EU level.
Finally, the analysis of committee report allocation is the first to link new data
with existing questions on the balance of power within the EP.
It is particularly this last point that opens the gate for future research on the
career paths of MEPs and their consequence on the EP’s institutional devel-
opment, national party election and candidate selection strategies, and even
the importance of national systemic variations. Each of these findings could
be of interest for political practitioners and party members. For as many
questions as this book has attempted to answer, it has also sparked possibilities
for further research.

9.3 Further Lines of Inquiry

Further work on the topic can take place in a number of ways. Seconding the
calls of Hix and Høyland (2013), work on the EP itself might examine the
recruitment strategies of all EP parties in a more systematic way, which will
further our understanding of why some party systems have been quicker to
adapt to the growing power of the EU institutions than others. A more thor-
ough examination of movement between committees can provide us with
evidence of how power and membership volatility varies within specific
committees, which may help us to better understand the impact of MEP
seniority and education on rapporteurships. Finally, future analyses of other
EU and national institutions can examine how the EP fits into the array of
professional opportunities in European politics in greater detail.

Career Behaviour and the European Parliament

Beyond extending the dataset to further waves of the EP, I propose that we
also continue to analyse the individual backgrounds of politicians from other
domestic and international institutions in similar ways. Such research will
provide us with key insights on individual policy-making behaviour, as well as
the interpersonal networks constructed across multiple levels of elected gov-
ernment in Europe. Indeed, new data collection on legislatures ranging from
the US Congress to democratizing parliaments in the developing world has
shown an increased interest in the human face of political institutions in
recent years. Any historical study of a political organization would be remiss
not to consider the power of the individual elites that have comprised its
previous iterations.
The European Parliament remains somewhat of an enigma among the
comparison of global legislative bodies. Its specialized committee system closely
resembles that of the US Congress, yet its extreme partisan variation—even at
the transnational group level—is more reminiscent of the Italian Camera dei
Deputati or the parliament of the French Fourth Republic. Its lack of initiation
powers and difficulty overruling the agenda-setting powers of the European
Commission might lead one to think of the UK House of Lords, whereas the
technical nature of policy making and amending might lead us to believe that
MEPs would be best left to the windowless, faceless bowels of a government
bureaucracy. Nonetheless, MEPs remain the only directly elected members
of the EU apparatus and provide the crucial function of democratic oversight
for at least some of the decisions made for the EU’s more than 500 million
Figure 1.1 of the book displayed three ideal pathways for MEP careers. The
first column indicates what the EP was and might have always been: a klatch
of politicians relegated to a second order legislature—banished or retired from
a life of national political prestige. Yet, the previous pages ought to have
suggested a different reality for the careers found within Europe’s legislature.
While some MEPs might use the EP as a stepping stone for a tour of duty in
national office (and some parties might even encourage this via their candi-
date-selection practices), a growing number of MEPs do want to remain in
Europe, do seek re-election to the EP, and do contribute to the amendment
and passage of the EU’s growing body of legislation and regulation.
While scholars of electoral behaviour and public opinion may be quick to
insist that the EP and its elections are still of secondary importance to the
average EU citizen, one can’t help but step back from the findings of this
project with the impression that the EP and its members won’t always be
viewed as less important than their colleagues in national political life. In fact,
it seems that at least a non-negligible set of MEPs already view their role in EP
life as important enough to merit the dizzying professional commitment that
a five-year mandate in Brussels and Strasbourg entails. Either that or there is a

Towards a Broader Appreciation for Political Careers

surprisingly high number of European politicians obsessed with collecting

miles from frequent flyer programmes.


1. Available at: <



Historical Party Groups by Party Family

A.1 Historical party groups by party family

Variable Historical groups

Christian Democrat EPP, ED, Forza

Socialist S, PES, S&D
Green/Regional RBW, Greens, Verts, ERA, EFA
Communist CG, EUL, LU, NGL/GUE
Conservative ER, DR, UEN, ITS, RDE, ECR
Eurosceptic IND/DEM, EFD, EDD
Non-inscrit no group, CDI/TGI

Source: author’s own calculations


New Member States Added to EP by Wave

B.1 New member states added to EP by wave

EP wave New members

1979–1984 Greece
1984–1989 Portugal, Spain
1989–1994 (none)
1994–1999 Austria, Finland, Sweden
1999–2004 (none)
2004–2009 Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia,
Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland,
Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia
2009–2014 Croatia

Source: author’s own calculations


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advancement, career (see ambition, career) committee reports 10, 27–9, 41, 76–92,
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe 96–100, 120, 142, 157, 161
(ALDE) 87, 101, 133–5 committees, legislative 12, 41, 77–80, 102, 124
Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) 135 Conservative Party, UK 133, 135, 152
ambition: Council of Ministers 4, 10, 21, 27, 31, 37–8, 78,
ambition, career 5, 17–20, 103, 139 93, 97, 101, 106 n.16
ambition, discrete 17 Croatia 67
ambition, progressive 17–18 cumul des mandats 25, 114, 117–19, 123
ambition, static 17–20, 45–7, 56, 139, Cyprus 67
148, 156 Czech Republic 43, 67
Amsterdam, Treaty of 31, 38, 93, 97, 140
Assemblée Nationale 20, 34 n.7, 63, 76 n.4, data, sources of 9, 28–33, 44–6, 55 n.9, 65–8,
110–15, 121 n.3 86–9, 101–2, 109–10, 112
Austria 39–40, 55 n.3, 67 decentralization 57–8, 61–76, 107
degree (see education, level of )
Belgium 2, 23, 25, 40, 59, 67–8 Denmark 40, 67
Berlusconi, Silvio 38
Bulgaria 67, 143 education, level of 87–91, 101, 151, 157–8, 161
Bundestag 20, 106 n.8, 112, 123–7, 131–7 elections:
Buzek, Jerzy 153 European elections 2, 22–4, 37, 59, 109–10,
117, 138, 145–6, 149–51
candidate: election, subnational and local 51, 58–9,
candidate list placement 23–4, 34 n.6, 44–7, 66–7, 74
61, 110, 113–21, 126–33, 145–50 elections, multi–level 60
candidate recruitment 9, 21–2, 62, elections, national 11, 60, 63, 72, 112, 141,
76, 145–7 145, 147
candidate selection 7–8, 22–3, 33, 47, 61, 105, re-election, seeking 18, 36–7, 46–53, 73–4,
114, 127, 139, 145–8, 156, 160–2 111, 114–15, 125–30, 144, 148
career paths (see also ambition, career) 4–8, Estonia 67
11–21, 54, 61–6, 73–4, 104, 107, 151, European Coal and Steel Community
155, 161 (ECSC) 2, 37, 138
careers (see career paths) European Court of Justice (ECJ) 39, 73
case selection 108, 152 European People’s Party (EPP) 27, 43, 109
centripetalism 63–4 experience 18, 26, 29–32, 39, 61, 76, 81–6,
Chirac, Jacques 113–14 90–1, 99–104, 115–19, 123–4, 132–6,
Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU) 126–34 139–46
Christlich Sozialistiche Union (CSU) 126–34 expertise (see education, level of )
co–decision, legislative 10, 21, 30–1,
38, 42, 48–51, 78–82, 86–98, 101–2, federalism 56–76, 107–8, 122–6, 157, 161
108, 111, 116, 121, 129, 131, 139, Finland 40, 67
156–9 France 10, 24–5, 40, 67, 100, 104–5, 106–21,
committees: 123–7, 145–6, 152, 157
committee leadership 46–8, 51, 68–70, 75, Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) 131, 134
78–9, 87, 91–4 Front National 113, 115

gatekeeping, party (see candidate) Poland 10, 33, 67, 105–8, 138–54
Germany 2, 10, 39–40, 63, 67, 105–9, 120, Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (PSL) 147
122–37, 145–6, 152, 157 Portugal 39–40, 51, 67, 72
Greece 39–40, 51, 67 power, legislative 7–9, 21, 30, 36–41, 43, 100,
120, 140–2
Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM) 32 Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS) 147–8
Hollande, François 114 prestige 5, 15, 25–7, 31, 37–9, 58, 77–82, 104,
Hungary 67 110–13, 123–6, 143–8
professionalism, legislative
institutions: (see professionalization)
institutional capacity 21, 28, 32, 35–44 professionalization 6–10, 17–22, 30, 35–7,
institutional change 1–4, 9, 11–16, 33–4, 134 39–42, 47–8, 78, 88–91, 108–13, 122–4,
institutional memory 7, 14, 85 139–42, 148, 155–62
institutions, careers as 5–7, 11–14
Ireland 40, 49–50, 67, 92, 95 rapporteur 21, 27–32, 77–106, 128–133, 151–2,
Italy 2, 24, 39–40, 51, 67, 114 157, 161
rapporteurship (see rapporteur)
Labour Party, UK 23 Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) 113
Latvia 67 report allocation (see committee reports)
legislators: Romania 23, 54, 67
legislative roles 8–10, 13–21, 42–8, 82, 99,
127–33, 162 salary, MEP 20–1, 35–40, 48–55, 112, 125,
legislators, national (see member of 143–4, 156
parliament) Sarkozy, Nicolas 21, 114
Lisbon, Treaty of 79, 93, 97, 103 Sejm 34 n.11, 106 n.18, 110, 140–3, 150, 153–4
Lithuania 67 Seniority 43, 46–8, 62, 65, 68, 71, 76, 78, 81–9,
Luxembourg 2, 40, 44, 66–7, 86, 110 96–8, 107–110, 119–20, 122, 131–6, 139,
Maastricht, Treaty of 21, 31, 36–8, 43, 51, Single European Act (SEA) 38
93–7, 140 Slovakia 67
Malta 67, 69–70, 72–3 Slovenia 67
member of parliament, national 15, 18, 25, 41, Socialists and Democrats (S&D) 27, 79, 87, 133–4
54, 66–75, 113–17, 124–5, 143 Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (SLD) 147
Merkel, Angela 21, 28, 122 Solidarity movement 140, 149
Monnet, Jean 1, 110 Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands
(SPD) 130–4
Nice, Treaty of 38 Spain 38–40, 51, 67, 138
non inscrit 3, 68, 70, 87, 92, 101, 103 Spinelli, Altiero 1
stability (see legislator turnover)
Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus (PDS) 133 statistics, descriptive 46, 68, 90
Parti communiste français (PCF) 116 Sweden 29, 40, 67, 84
Parti socialiste français (PS) 115
parties, political: turnover, legislator 7–8, 24, 63, 104, 107,
parties, fringe 59, 133 109–10, 115–19, 122, 128, 131, 141, 151
parties, minor 122, 134–5 Tusk, Donald 148–51
parties, national political
party groups, transnational 2–3, 20–1, 27–9, Union pour un mouvement populaire
41, 68, 77–9, 85–7, 98–101, 132–5 (UMP) 115–16, 119
party organization, political 3, 22–6, 31–2, unitary government 8–10, 20–5, 31, 56–69,
57–61, 109, 114, 125–6, 136, 145 72–5, 110, 118–21, 145, 148, 152, 157
Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) 47 United Kingdom 14, 18, 23, 43, 47, 63, 67–8,
Party of European Socialists (PES, see Socialists 99, 114, 133, 159, 162
and Democrats) United Kingdom Independence Party
Platforma Obywatelska (PO) 109, 147–8 (UKIP) 47