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Home arrow Political science arrow Constitutional preferences and parliamentary reform: explaining national parliaments adaptation to European integration
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Analysis of Parliamentarians' Support for a Direct Role in EU Affairs

Table 6.4 shows the results of three linear multi-level models of parliamentarians' support for the three reforms of their direct European role studied in this chapter. All models contain individual-level measures of intergovernmental preferences, country-level measures of existing institutions, and party-level measures of party support for integration and government status. It should be pointed out that there are only ten countries in the analysis and, thus, only little real information to estimate the effects of the country-level variables.

Table 6.4 Models of parliamentarians' support for a direct role in EU affairs

Inter-parliamentary

cooperation

Joint committee with MEPs

Commission ties

в

SE

p.

в

SE

p.

в

SE

p.

Intergovernmental

preferences

-0.098

0.074

0.186

-0.223

0.102

0.029

0.160

0.073

0.028

Domestic agenda rights

-0.113

0.050

0.024

-0.181

0.063

0.004

-0.090

0.073

0.220

EU-related oversight institutions

-1.343

0.328

0.000

-2.114

0.501

0.000

-0.760

0.596

0.202

Party support for integration

-0.005

0.062

0.942

-0.125

0.056

0.025

-0.006

0.123

0.963

Governing party

0.149

0.091

0.104

0.173

0.102

0.090

0.289

0.107

0.007

Constant

6.745

0.569

0.000

7.845

0.349

0.000

6.344

0.893

0.000

Country-level residual variance

0.042

0.041

0.044

0.022

0.099

0.031

Party-level residual variance

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.000

0.026

0.062

Individual-level residual variance

2.096

0.272

2.762

0.247

1.621

0.184

Observations

1154

1154

1154

Countries

10

10

10

Parties

58

58

58

Log

-1059.1677

-1140.2457

-989.04219

pseudolikelihood

Note: The results come from linear multi-level random-intercept models with standard errors, clustered at the country- level, in parentheses.Atthe party-level, parties areweighted to reflecttheirseatshare in parliament. Atthe country-level, all countries are weighted to count equally. ft: Coefficient estimate. SE: Standard error. p.: p-value.

The results have to be considered with caution. To the extent that they correspond to the strong relationships that Figure 6.3 suggests, they may, nonetheless, be taken as additional support for the argument put forward here. A number of robustness tests are discussed below.

The results are broadly in line with the theoretical expectations. Parliamentarians with intergovernmental preferences tend to support closer ties to the European Commission, and oppose a joint committee with members of the EP. There is no significant relationship between parliamentarians' intergovernmental leanings and their views on inter-parliamentary cooperation. This is possibly the case because advocates of federalist institutional designs for the EU are also sceptical of reinforced inter-parliamentary cooperation. The direction of the estimated effect of intergovernmental preferences is, however, negative, suggesting that, on average, parliamentarians tending towards such views might still be more sceptical than their federally oriented colleagues. Institutional constraints significantly reduce support for interparliamentary cooperation and a joint national parliamentary committee with MEPs. As one could have anticipated, on the basis of Figure 6.3, this effect is weaker and insignificant regarding the idea that national parliaments should have closer ties to the European Commission. Nonetheless, the direction of the effect is still negative suggesting, as in the case of intergovernmental preferences, that parliamentarians in countries with strong EU-related and domestic parliamentary rights and capacities tend to be more sceptical than their colleagues in 'weaker parliaments', not only of inter-parliamentary cooperation and a joint committee with MEPs, but also of closer ties to the European Commission. However, intergovernmental preferences and institutions limit support for the last proposal only inconsistently. The theoretical argument would suggest that this is the case because closer Commission ties are more compatible with a parliamentary focus on domestic oversight than the other two reform proposals.

Regarding the control variables, it is, first, interesting to observe that party leadership support for integration consistently depresses individual-level support. However, this tendency is significant only in the model of parliamentarians' support for a joint national committee with MEPs. In this case, it is unclear why parliamentarians with intergovernmental leanings tend to oppose a joint committee, while intergovernmental tendencies in their parties' leadership pull in the opposite direction. It should be noted already, though, that the effect of party positions on individual preferences is substantially of very limited importance and disappears entirely upon the exclusion of only 50 individual-level observations from around ten highly Eurosceptic parties (see the section entitled 'Robustness of the Results'). Finally, parliamentarians that belong to governing parties tend to be more supportive of all three reform proposals than opposition party members, although the effect is not

Table 6.5 Substantive effects of the explanatory variables

Explanatory

variables

Lowest

value

Highest

value

Change of parliamentarians' support

Inter-parliamentary

cooperation

Joint committee with MEPs

Commission

ties

Intergovernmental

preferences

-2.387

2.037

-0.434

-0.987

0.708

Domestic agenda rights

1

7

-0.678

-1.086

-0.54

EU oversight institutions

0.286

1.250

-1.295

-2.038

-0.733

Party support for integration

1

7

-0.03

-0.75

-0.036

Governing party member

0

1

0.149

0.173

0.289

Note: The last three columns show the difference in parliamentarians' support associated to the distance between the lowest and highest value of the corresponding explanatory variables, as observed in the sample underlying the estimation. Insignificant effects are in italics.

significant in the first model. Yet, as the next paragraph discusses, the effect is substantively so small that it is effectively negligible.

Table 6.5 shows the differences in parliamentarians' levels of support for different reform options that correspond to the largest discrepancies in the values of the explanatory variables observed in the data. As noted, whether parliamentarians are members of governing parties has a minor impact, bearing in mind that support levels could theoretically vary from a minimum of one to a maximum of seven. Pronounced variation in party support for integration corresponds to a 0.75 unit change in support. However, as previous chapters have pointed out already, the relevant parliamentary parties in Europe typically are positioned much closer than that. The mean party position in the data is 5.9 and the median is 6.2 (see also Figure A6.1). In the range of data that is of practical interest, therefore, variation in party leadership support for integration rather translates into around a 0.125 unit change in individual-level reform support, which is effectively a negligible magnitude. The magnitude of the effect of intergovernmental constitutional preferences at the individual level is approximately similar to that of party support. The same holds true for existing parliamentary agenda rights. Comparing the parliaments with strongest to those with the weakest agenda rights leads one to expect a difference in individual-level support for a direct parliamentary role in EU affairs of up to one point, in the case of support for a joint national committee with MEPs. Existing EU-related oversight institutions exert the substantially largest effect on parliamentarians' support for a direct European role in the case of all three reform proposals. As noted, this effect is not significant regarding the idea to give national parliaments closer ties to the European Commission. In the other two cases, the members of parliaments that already have strong EU-related oversight competences at home are between 1.3 (inter-parliamentary cooperation) and 2 (joint national committee with MEPs) units less supportive of a direct role than their colleagues in parliaments that have not adapted to integration by creating strong oversight institutions.

 
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