Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Panel 109: Evolving Political Parties in the Context of Changing European Democracies
Monday, 02/Sep/2019:
10:50am - 12:20pm

Session Chair: Cláudia Toriz Ramos, Universidade Fernando Pessoa
Location: Room 12.04


Do Transnational Election Lists Work for European Democracy? Evidence from the “European Spring” in the 2019 EP’s Elections

Torben Fischer1, Jasper Finkeldey2

1Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany; 2University of Essex, UK

The idea of transnational lists as means to enhance the democratic legitimacy of the European Union (EU) gained momentum in current political debates about the EU’s future. However, the prospect of transnational lists remains an understudied field of research. The paper addresses this research gap. It proceeds in two steps. In the theoretical part, the paper looks at political and scientific arguments for and against transnational lists. The focus will be on central functions of political parties in the political system of the EU such as representation, interest articulation and responsiveness. Based on this overview we develop a catalogue of criteria for an empirical evaluation of the potential of transnational lists as means of democratization of European politics. In the empirical part, we conduct a qualitative content analysis of the media coverage (in quality newspapers) of the “European Spring” transnational list in Germany and France as the first attempt to simulate transnational lists in the 2019 European elections. These results are compared to other European parties in both countries to figure out in how far the political communication and the media presence of “European Spring” really differs from its political opponents and whether they justify arguments for or against transnational lists. The paper thus contributes in two important ways. First, we comprehensively categorise and critically discuss the existing theoretical arguments concerning transnational lists. Second, we present the first empirical study on the characteristics and effects of transnational lists for the democratic legitimacy of the EU.

The Second Time Around: Status Quo and Reform of the Europarties’ Selection Procedures for Spitzenkandidaten in 2019

Steven Van Hecke, Gert-Jan Put, Wouter Wolfs, Victor De Groof

KU Leuven (University of Leuven, Belgium), Belgium

In the run-up to the 2019 European Parliament elections, the main Europarties are again nominating a leading candidate for the EC presidency who will perform as their Europe-wide campaign figurehead. These Spitzenkandidaten are subjected to the Europarties’ internal selection procedures where they, in theory, compete with other high-profile co-partisan candidates for the nomination. In 2014, these intra-party candidate selections were organized in a relatively short span of time and ad-hoc manner due to a lack of preparation and experience (Put et al., 2016). The Europarties had to start designing procedures from scratch and had no tradition to lean upon as this was the first form of political recruitment taking place at the EU level.
In this contribution, we analyze whether, how and why the Europarties reformed their selection procedures regarding leading candidates for the 2019 European Parliament elections. Following the scholarly literature on candidate selection reforms by national political parties, we identify a set of political system-, party- and intraparty-level determinants that foster procedural reforms (Barnea and Rahat, 2007). The Europarties’ selection procedures for leading candidates will be analyzed on the basis of official party documents (statutes, regulations) and semi-structured elite interviews organized with party officials of six Europarties: European People’s Party (EPP), the Party of European Socialists (PES), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE), the European Green Party (EGP), the Party of the European Left (EL) and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE).
The analysis will focus on the four main dimensions of the central theoretical framework by Hazan and Rahat (2010): candidacy, selectorate, centralization and voting/appointment procedure. Additionally, we examine the level of internal competition during these procedures and the timing of the different procedural steps. We discuss the implications of our findings for the nature of EU election campaigns, the broader organizational development of Europarties and the inter-institutional balance within the EU.

Dichotomies of Supranational Socialisation and their Relevance for Empirical Research – the Case of Council Officials

Kamil Ławniczak

University of Warsaw, Poland

Research on socialisation in supranational environments such as the EU institutions has to face the complexity and diversity of the socialisation process. Theoretical differentiations can provide useful analytical frameworks, but all are not equally suitable for specific research purposes. They often take the form of dichotomies, such as the basic differentiation of socialisation as process and product (“being socialised”). As shown by Zürn and Checkel, two important and deeply entrenched distinctions can be applied to supranational socialisation: actor’s behaviour vs their properties, and agent vs structure. This paper will argue that another dichotomy, between causal and constitutive relations, is theoretically significant, in particular for research embedded in IR constructivism.

However, such distinctions are sometimes difficult to trace in empirical material. The paper will therefore argue for the potential of practice–oriented research to shed new light on supranational socialisation. Practice turn can overcome some of the dichotomies, due to the relationship between practices, agent and structures, and the fact that practices combine material and discursive elements. The argument will be supported by empirical material gathered in interviews with Council officials.