Publikation Soziale Bewegungen / Organisierung Policy Positions of Left Parties in the 1999–2004 European Parliament: Programmatic Similarities and Differences

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Januar 2004

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Introduction

With the widening and deepening of the European Union (EU) on the one hand and institutional changes in favor of powers to the European Parliament (EP) on the other, policy positions of national parties are getting increasingly important on the European level of governance. National parties are the core collective actors within the party groups of the EP. The EP party groups, largely organized according to the party families present in the national party systems, rule the EP. The formal structures of the EP, however, provide scope for influence only if the member parties can act as a united group (Bowler/Farrel 1999). Up to now, the capacity of party groups to act unitedly has been studied mainly with respect to voting cohesion of members of the EP (MEPs). In these studies, cohesion is assumed to be fostered by institutional requirements on the one hand and ideological homogeneity of the members of party groups on the other. This paper assesses the ideological homogeneity of the three Left EP party groups – the Group of the Party of European Socialists (Socialists), the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens), and the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (United Left or Left Socialists) – based upon quantitative content analysis of the national election programs of the member parties. ...

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