The Politics of Mobilization: National Parties and EU Decision-making
This research project analyses how and to what extent representatives of national parties engage in European decision-making. In this political mobilization of national parties, we distinguish different forms of activities (i.e., internal and external strategies), different levels of authority (i.e., regional, national, and supranational), and different addressees (i.e., the executive, the legislative, and private actors). The main goal of the study is to determine if and in what particular ways political parties try to influence EU decision-making and how this ultimately affects the substantial and procedural quality of the EU politics, both at the European and national level. To learn about the behaviour of national party representatives in EU decision-making, we conducted an extensive online-survey among members of parliament in the German Bundestag and in seven state parliaments (Landtage). In a number of semi-structured interviews with MPs of the German Bundestag and members of the executive, we gathered additional information on EU related activities. For the analysis of external party strategies, a large amount of party press releases was content-analysed covering an entire legislative term and complemented by an in-depth case study over a one-month period. In 2011, we completed the data collection process. More elaborate analyses will follow in 2012. First empirical results show that members of parliament, at the national and regional level, conceive EU politics as important for the success of their daily work. However, they only expand their political actions towards other territorial levels and institutions to a limited extent. Thus, we cannot speak of a strong trans- and/or supranationlisation of the political actions of German parties. When members of parliament in the Bundestag and the Landtage become active, gathering information about European policies and/or trying to influence EU decision-making, this is mainly done through the channels of their respective parties. Yet, a considerable amount of their communication activities contains references to EU institutions and legislation, depending among other factors on the policy field in question. Altogether, the impact of the European Union on the behaviour of national political parties and the competition between parties in routine times of politics seems limited. As a consequence, German political parties’ contribution to the democratic legitimation of EU decision-making is also limited.