Social Identities in the European Parliament ꟷ Voting Behaviour of MEPs in the Field of Agricultural Policy
Research on voting behaviour in the European Parliament has identified partisan politics, personal ideological beliefs and national preferences as central determinants (Hix, 2002; Kreppel & Tsebelis, 1999). Within this research strand ideological inclination is often subsumed under party affiliation. Depending on the policy field, there is mixed evidence whether MEPs vote along party lines or along national lines. By drawing on the emerging Social Identities in the Policy Process (SIPP) perspective, we argue that social group membership may further contribute to the understanding of voting behaviour within the European Parliament. SIPP assumes that policy actors act in accordance with their salient social identity. In the policy process organizational, local, sectoral, demographic and informal identities are relevant (Hornung, Bandelow, & Vogeler, 2018). To explore whether social identities play a role in decision-making in the European parliament we analyse the respective identities of MEPs and connect these with voting behaviour over different policy issues by means of a quantitative comparative analysis. We operationalize organizational identity with party affiliation, local identity with nationality, sectoral identity with committee membership and demographic identity with gender and age. The informal identities must be addressed in future qualitative case studies. To test our argument we choose the field of farm animal welfare as a case study. This subfield of agricultural policy is gaining increased political and societal attention (Daugbjerg & Feindt, 2017; Vogeler, 2018). Building on findings from the field of agricultural policymaking in the EU’s member states, we expect that in particular the organizational identity and the sectoral identity are crucial in understanding voting behaviour. Due to the contested character of farm animal welfare within the agricultural policy community, we in addition assume that demographic identities are important in understanding voting behaviour. Our study thereby contributes to the research strand on voting behaviour on the EU level as well as to the empirical testing of the only recently developed SIPP hypotheses.
Daugbjerg, C., & Feindt, P. H. (2017). Post-exceptionalism in public policy: Transforming food and agricultural policy. Journal of European Public Policy, 24(11), 1565–1584.
Hix, S. (2002). Parliamentary Behavior with Two Principals: Preferences, Parties, and Voring in the European Parliament. American Journal of Political Science, 46(3), 688-698.
Hornung, J., Bandelow, N. C., & Vogeler, C. S. (2018). Social identities in the policy process. Policy Sciences, online first.
Kreppel, A., & Tsebelis, G. (1999). Coalition Formation in the European Parliament. Comparative Political Studies, 32(8).
Vogeler, C. S. (2018). Why do farm animal welfare regulations vary between EU member states? A comparative analysis of societal and party political determinants in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. Journal of Common Market Studies, online first.
The proposal is dedicated to the panel “Emerging Perspectives on Policy Change”, but also fits to other panels within the section.