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Does Performance Matter? MEP Activity Levels and the Prospects for Re-nomination and Re-Election

Emmanuel Sigalas
University of Leuven
Emmanuel Sigalas
University of Leuven
Open Panel

Abstract

After each European election nearly half of the outgoing Members of the European Parliament re-enter the EP for an additional legislative term. Despite this being a persistent phenomenon, the reasons behind it are still unclear. In this paper I test the hypothesis that the work of an MEP in the EP affects their chances for re-nomination and re-election. I argue that there are reasons both in favour and against the link between MEP activity and performance and re-election. European elections are second-order which means that citizens’ criteria largely concentrate on domestic developments and priorities; thus, MEPs’ incentive to maximise their performance in the EP is constrained. On the other, MEPs may wish to prove to their European political group, their national party and their constituents that they are hard-working parliamentarians who deserve to be re-elected and climb the EP hierarchy. National media have often picked up the issue of how many reports, resolutions and questions MEPs have drafted, in order to distinguish between ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ performers. From their side MEPs have proven particularly sensitive to the construction of a quantitative performance index. Therefore, quantitative performance may fail to capture the qualitative dimension of MEPs’ work, but it may affect t their re-nomination and re-election prospects. The quantitative analysis in the paper employs logistic regression to test the MEP re-nomination and re-elections chances as a function of the number of reports, questions, motions and speeches produced in the EP. The data draw on all MEP candidates throughout the EU for the 2009 European elections and the activity level of the 6th EP term MEPs.