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Is the European Parliament competitive or consensual "and why bother"?

Abstract

This article looks at the voting behaviour in the European Parliament (EP) from a new perspective.
By analysing all legislative reports adopted by the parliamentary committees during the 1999-2004 legislature, the present study overcomes most of the shortcomings of roll call based researches and brings additional evidence to assess existing claims about the nature of the EP.
Empirical evidence illustrates that consensual politics is still dominant in the EP arena and suggests that competition fails to emerge even under the circumstances that are expected to foster politicisation: co-decision procedure in the EP and qualified majority voting in the Council.
In sum, this article challenges the recurrent statement that more powers to the EP increase the party-political nature of policy-making in the European Union (EU) and argues that consociational theory still explains an overwhelming share of EP politics.

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