The Evolution of Party Competition in the European Union

Research question/goal: 

The project contributes to the enormous progress in the digitization of political documents by collecting an extensive data set that covers the turning points in the (parliamentary) history of European integration. While current data covers the period since 1999, the European Parliament gained important powers in the 1980s and 1990s, which cannot be studied with existing data. Accordingly, data collection efforts are made to cover the period from the first European election in 1979 to 1999. With this extended coverage, it is possible to investigate how the strengthening of the European Parliament translated into party competition, and how party competition changed through internal and external factors. The data itself consists of three data sources, which the project attempts to combine systematically. First, it contains the documents of plenary speeches. For that, the project recovered scanned plenary debates from the archives of the European Parliament in Luxembourg and made them machine readable by using optical character recognition (OCR) software. This dataset on plenary speeches also informs about the date, topic, and speaker of political statements. Overall, it covers around 190,000 speech contributions, i.e. about 50,000 from EP1 (1979 till 1984), 40,000 from EP2 (1984 till 1989), 48,000 from EP3 (1989 till 1994), and 52,000 from EP4 (1994 till 1999). This dataset can be combined with data about members of the European Parliament to provide further insights into speechmaking. Another possibility is to combine it with existing data on legislative proposals, which are drafted by the European Commission. This data source also provides information about the policy-making process and the type of proposals, including documents about scope and scale. Finally, the dataset also offers the opportunity to connect it with data on roll call votes and early agreements, which have become the “standard” in policy-making. Thanks to the MZES Data and Methods unit, we also set up the basic infrastructure for an SQL database that allows to query for specific portions of that data.

Fact sheet

2019 to 2022
Data Sources: 
Quantitative, databases, texts
Geographic Space: