Choosing Agents: Members of the European Parliament and their Political Organizations Seen through Report Allocation

Publication
University of Oslo

Graphic illustrating the variation in committee activity in the European Parliament (1999-2014). Author: Silje Synnøve Lyder Hermansen

Abstract

This dissertation treats with partisan organization in the European Parliament (EP) and its impact on members’ (MEPs) career opportunities. National parties organize elections. Parliamentary work is organized around transnational political groups. They do not share any overarching organizational structure. My contributions pertain to the interconnected choices made by MEPs and their two party organizations.

Parliamentary groups face a trade-off between the need for expertise and the risk of agency drift. Groups allocate reports to maximize the value added by the rapporteur while limiting the drift. They prefer policy experts to generalists and -- up to a point -- experienced MEPs to newcomers. Groups also balance individual demands with the collective need.

National parties do not have institutionalized presence in the EP. They enter into an outcome-based contract similar to voters. MEPs are either rewarded by reselection or kicked out of office. Report alloca-tions dissipate uncertainty about MEPs’ ability. They thus improve MEPs’ career prospects to the extent that parties need new information about agent quality, and to the extent that parliamentary groups can provide it.

Outreach

A popularized presentation in Norwegian on the effect of gender quotas on legislative behavior and parties’ candidate selection can be found here: “Et forsvar for kvinnekvotering”

Reference

  • Hermansen, Silje Synnøve Lyder (2017) Choosing Agents: Members of the European Parliament and their Political Organizations Seen through Report Allocation. Doctoral dissertation. University of Oslo. 323 p.