Literature Review: Loyal soldiers or seasoned leaders? The selection of committee chairs in the European Parliament

Although the position of committee chairs in the European Parliament has become increasingly important and is highly appealing to MEPs, we know little about how they are selected. To fill this gap, in his recently published article in JEPP, M. Chiru sheds light on whether committee seniority and chair seniority affect the likelihood of MEPs to become chair. Building on informational and partisan theories of legislative organization, one of the text’s main arguments predicts pervious leadership positions as a chair should increase the likelihood of receiving the position as committee chair. According to the informational perspective of committee organization, chairs accumulate technical knowledge, develop leadership skills and form personal relationships with other EP or EU leaders irrespective of the committee they preside. This insider knowledge about the legislative processes is, in turn, perceived as most decisive for the nomination as committee chair.… Read More Literature Review: Loyal soldiers or seasoned leaders? The selection of committee chairs in the European Parliament

Speaking or drafting? How parties’ candidate selection procedures shape the prioritization of parliamentary activities in the European Parliament

Legislators have a large number of duties but only a limited amount of time. This scarcity of time is a particularly severe problem for the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): they act on several political levels (the European level, the national sphere and possibly the regional level) and must bridge large geographical distances. Additionally, MEPs serve multiple principals: their national party and their European Party Group (EPG) (e.g., Hix & Høyland, 2014). For coping with this workload, it is wise to prioritize some parliamentary activities over others. For instance, some MEPs tend to favor parliamentary speeches over written questions or the drafting of legislative texts (proposals) over legislative opinions. Some extraordinary active MEPs in the 7th legislative term of the European Parliament (2009-2014), for example, held more than 2000 speeches within five years. Yet, we still do not know why some MEPs prioritize speeches, while others prefer to draft written questions, reports or opinions. Accordingly, in our recent article in Politics and Governance, we ask: How can we explain MEPs’ prioritization strategy in terms of different parliamentary activities?… Read More Speaking or drafting? How parties’ candidate selection procedures shape the prioritization of parliamentary activities in the European Parliament

Are women gaining ground? The allocation of committee chairs in the European Parliament

To Members of the European Parliament, the position of a committee chair is more appealing than any other posts in the EP (e.g. McElroy, 2006). Representatives in these positions can shape proceedings, they influence cohesion and coherence and can affect the committee’s output substantially (Hix, 1999). Additionally, leadership positions provide opportunities to influence legislation and significantly affects visibility since the position of a committee chair is a strong predictor for speech-making in the plenary (Greene and Cross, 2017). However, irrespective of this importance for practitioners, little academic work has analyzed committee chair allocation in the EP (Chiru, 2019) and the role of gender has been completely disregarded thus far. As a result, in this blog post, I look into the factors at the European and member state level that enable women to become committee chairs in the European Parliament between 1979 and 2019.… Read More Are women gaining ground? The allocation of committee chairs in the European Parliament

Women as European Commissioners – Can von der Leyen reach the fifty percent she promised?

In a tight race, Ursula von der Leyen was elected by the European Parliament to be president of the European Commission [EC] last week. One of many promises she made during her short campaign, was the pledge to bring in 50 percent women as commissioners. This is an ambitious endeavor given that women currently occupy about 30 percent of the offices. This figure is considerably higher than the average proportion of female ministers in the member states through the 2000s, where only 23.4 percent of all government members were women (own data, excluding Malta and Cyprus). The literature on politics and gender would lead us to expect the opposite pattern with lower proportions of women in the commission compared to national executives: For instance, theories highlighting the role of political opportunity structure point to the fact that women are less likely to reach political offices if only one position is available (Jalalzai 2008) and, since every country sends only one commissioner, women should stand low chances to be selected. Students of executive and legislative recruitment revealed that women have lower chances if aspirants can not declare their interest for offices independently since women are less likely to be part of the insider networks from which candidates are selected in such cases (Matland 2002). Since the EC nominations are made by governments behind closed doors, women face additional barriers to their consideration as nominees. Which factors enable women to overcome these obstacles to EC appointment and explain whether countries sent female commissioners?… Read More Women as European Commissioners – Can von der Leyen reach the fifty percent she promised?

Can women save the environment? How female Members of the European Parliament make a difference on environmental legislation

“Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.” Greta Thunberg (2019) puts it blatantly clear: our style of living is threatening our very existence; we are destroying the ground we live on – and if we do not radically change our conveniently arranged lives now, we won’t have the chance to turn the tide anymore. Living in a representative democracy, it is, however, not only us, the citizens, who have to act. Far-reaching decisions about environmental politics are taken by parliamentarians. Hence, we would probably want to know what delegates think about environmental issues and whether they act in accordance with these preferences.… Read More Can women save the environment? How female Members of the European Parliament make a difference on environmental legislation