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The Citizens’ Voice? Rhetorical Responsiveness in the European Parliament

Interest Groups
Media
Representation
Lobbying
Public Opinion
European Parliament
Iskander De Bruycker
Maastricht Universiteit
Iskander De Bruycker
Maastricht Universiteit
Anne Rasmussen
University of Copenhagen

Abstract

This paper analyses the rhetorical responsiveness of Members of the European Parliament (MEP) in the European news media. It is expected that the extent to which MEPs align with the European public can be explained by their party group affiliation and their interactions with pressure groups. The analysis relies on a large scale content analysis of statements made in eight European news media outlets and connected to a sample of 42 EU policy issues. Our results demonstrate that the electoral weight nor the incumbency position of an MEP’s party group are consequential for rhetorical responsiveness. MEPs from leftist party groups are more likely to agree with European citizens compared to those affiliated to rightist party groups. While the mobilization of civil society groups seems to stimulate rhetorical responsiveness, MEPs are less likely to agree with European citizens on policy issues crowded with corporate lobby groups.