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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

MEP Role Understanding and Representation: A Difficult Match?

European Politics
European Union
European Parliament
Katjana Gattermann
University of Amsterdam
Katjana Gattermann
University of Amsterdam
Sofia Vasilopoulou
University of York
Richard Whitaker
University of Leicester

This paper examines how Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) view their roles as representatives and to what extent these are associated with representation, which we measure as opinion congruence with their voters. We develop hypotheses that tap into the ways in which these different roles influence MEP-voter congruence, including factors related to political party, length of career and electoral system. We measure opinion congruence using surveys of MEPs carried out by the European Parliament Research Group in 2000, 2006, 2010 and 2015 ( in combination with the European Election Study voter surveys from 1999-2014. We compare positions on a general left-right dimension and on a pro versus anti-integration dimension. Preliminary findings lend some support to our hypotheses, although the electoral system is a weak moderator of this relationship compared to the political party moderator. Our results appear to be robust for different parliamentary terms. The findings contribute to debates about representation and ultimately, how democratic the EU is, a critical question at a time of crisis in Europe.

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