MEPs Voting Behaviour: ‘Winning Sides and Grand Coalitions’?
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Roll-call Votes are Not the Whole Story
Theabove findings are based on the quantitative data of the roll-call votes. But it should be noted that these accounted for only one-fourth to one-third of all votes in the previous EP (see Rasmussen, 2008, p. 12; Thiem, 2006, p. 2). Because in line with the EP’s rules of procedures MEPs vote in general through show of hands (Rule 165). While a roll call vote needs to be requested by a political group or at least 40 MEPs on the eve of a vote (Rule 167).
The vote on the SWIFT-agreement, regarding the sharing of financial data with the US, for example, was not a roll-call vote. Although being the first vote where the EP exemplified its gained muscle strength under the Lisbon Treaty, as it first rejected this international agreement in February 2010. Hence, VoteWatch.eu demands to “increase the transparency and legitimacy of the European Parliament on such important issues”, and therefore “calls for all legislative votes to be by roll-call”.
In the meantime more qualitative studies could bring more insights to the quantitative data. Rasmussen (2008, p. 16) uncovered in a qualitative study of 14 Danish MEPs in the 6th EP that national affiliations influences their voting behaviour on issues such as environment, employment, animal rights, food safety, and agriculture – as also exemplified through roll-call votes.
More (M)EP Statistics
The report also highlights other findings than voting behaviour (p. 12ff), such as the fact that:
- The Euro-skeptic MEPs make ‘good’ use of the speeking and question opportunities;
- The top 3 national delegations with a high vs. a low attendance rate: 1) Austria; 2) Malta; 3) Finland vs. 1) UK; 2) Romania; 3) Italy;
- Most questions from MEPs come from the two countries which have suffered the most of the economic crisis, namely Ireland and Greece;
- MEPs from ‘new’ Member States, as Estonia, Latvia, and the Czech Republic ask less often questions than their collegeaus; and,
- While Finish MEPs don’t write reports that often, they seem to be the first in amending them.
What’s next for VoteWatch.eu?
Dr Hagemann announced that we can expect new interactive features to be launched soon on VoteWatch.eu, such as a vote matching tool allowing to compare citizens’ voting behaviour with that of our MEPs. But in the meantime the organisation also aims to unfold more of the European legislative process, and has caught sight of the Council as its next target.
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