Explanatory Variables and Bivariate Relationships

The operationalization of the constitutional preferences of the party compositions of national parliaments follows the same approach as in Chapter 4. Party preferences are first measured on the basis of the Chapel Hill expert surveys of 2010 and 2014 (Bakker et al. 2015; Hooghe et al. 2010; Steenbergen and Marks 2007; Ray 1999). I assume that party positions have evolved linearly between these two surveys. However, in the few cases in which a party is not included in one of the two surveys, I take the value of the one that is available. On this basis, I create a seat-weighted average parliamentary position, respectively for the parliamentary composition at the time of the ratification of the ESM treaty in 2012, and for the end of January 2013, given that the measurement of parliamentary reform preferences regarding the Article-13 conference is from the first half of 2013.

Regarding the measurement of the strength of existing parliamentary institutions, the measure of EU-related oversight institutions is the same as in the previous chapters. In order to capture variation in parliamentary budget rights across countries, I use an index developed by Wehner (2006). This index not only takes into account the capacity of a parliament's committee system but also items such as access of parliamentarians to budgetary information, the time available for scrutiny, or the government's flexibility in implementing the budget.

As for the alternative explanations, the presence of minority government and inter-party cabinet conflict along the EU and left-right dimensions is measured as in Chapter 4. That is, cabinet conflict is the standard deviation from the average cabinet position on each of the two dimensions, respectively based on Chapel Hill survey data. Minority governments exist if the cabinet parties hold 50 per cent of the parliamentary seats or less. Regarding the political-economic salience of the ESM treaty and the Article-13 conference, I obtain the contributions of a country to the EU budget from the European Commission Financial Report 2012, measured as percentage of Gross National Income; and the debt of a country from the EUROSTAT-database item 'Consolidated Government Gross Debt (% of GDP) in 2010'.

Figure 7.3 shows bivariate relationships of the explanatory variables and, respectively, parliamentary adaptation to the ESM treaty and parliamentary preferences regarding the Article-13 conference.[1] Beginning with the plots focusing on adaptation to the ESM treaty on the left, the one point that stands out is that there are few clear relationships to be found. The one exception is that the three parliaments with the most far-reaching competences over national budget-making, the Austrian, Dutch, and German ones, also have the

Explanatory variables, parliamentary adaptation, and reform preferences

Figure 7.3 Explanatory variables, parliamentary adaptation, and reform preferences

Source: Adapted from Rittberger and Winzen (2015a).

most extensive rights in ESM decision-making. In these countries, parties apparently deemed compensation for the ESM's challenge to parliamentary budget rights necessary. Examining the remaining plots, however, it does not seem to be the case that parliamentary reactions to the ESM stem from constitutional preferences, measured as average parliamentary party support for integration, from cabinet conflict on the left-right dimension, or from the existence of significant EU-related oversight institutions. On first sight, it is possible that cabinet conflict on the EU dimension inspires adaptation to the ESM. It is still true, however, what previous chapters pointed out: cabinet conflict is extremely limited in absolute terms, with all but one of the countries having a standard deviation from the mean cabinet position of well below 1 (recall that EU conflict is measured on a 1-7 scale for each party). In the only country with a standard deviation of above 1—Finland—parties did not implement institutional reforms in response to the ESM treaty. Finally, does minority government matter for parliamentary adaptation? At the time of the ratification of the ESM treaty, there were only three minority governments in the Eurozone: the Rutte II and Monti caretaker cabinets in the Netherlands and Italy, respectively, and the Christofias IV minority cabinet in Cyprus. Latvia also had a minority government, albeit it adopted the Euro only in January 2014. Of the three minority governments, the Dutch parliament created strong ESM rights, the Italian one weak rights, and the Cypriot parliament none at all. There is, in other words, no obvious relationship between minority government and ESM rights. Overall, the only clear pattern that the plots in Figure 7.3 reveal is that far-reaching domestic budgetary competences of national parliaments go together with extensive institutional responses to the ESM treaty.

Turning to parliamentary preferences for the Article-13 conference (the right-hand side of the figure), there are again few clear patterns. On visual inspection, it is not the case that constitutional preferences, parliamentary budget rights or cabinet conflict relate to whether parliamentary parties favour a broad or a narrow mandate for the inter-parliamentary conference envisaged in the TSCG. At the time when we measure parliamentary preferences, early 2013, there were six minority governments among the member states: Bulgaria (Borisov I), Cyprus (Christofias IV), Denmark (Thorning-Schmidt I), Italy (Monti), Latvia (Dombrovskis IV), and Sweden (Reinfeldt II). The Bulgarian parliament's position on the mandate of the Article-13 conference is not clear. Otherwise, three of the five remaining parliaments confronted with minority cabinets favoured a narrow mandate (Denmark, Latvia, and Sweden) whereas the other two advocated a broad one. There is no clear pattern in either direction, in other words. The only tentative relationship to be found in Figure 7.3 is between existing EU-related oversight institutions and parliamentary reform preferences. There is a tendency for the party compositions of parliaments with strong EU-related competences to favour a weak version of the TSCG's new inter-parliamentary conference, whereas parliamentary parties tend to advocate a conference with a broad mandate where parliaments lack domestic rights and capacities to engage with EU policy-making.

The findings so far suggest that existing institutions at the national level are the main determinants of parliamentary adaptation to the new challenges posed by EU reforms during the Eurozone crisis. The existence of significant domestic budgetary rights encourages parliamentary parties to implement reforms that secure the national parliament's institutional rights in ESM decision-making. Institutions also shape parliamentary preferences regarding the mandate of the Article-13 conference that the TSCG calls for. In this case, however, EU-related oversight institutions that parliamentary parties have already created at home are decisive, rather than existing budgetary provisions. This is in line with the findings of Chapter 6 at least to the extent that EU competences were the most important explanatory factor then. Constitutional preferences do not have a clear effect at least on visual inspection. Such an effect was not to be expected on Article-13 conference preferences of parliamentary parties or the creation of ESM-related rights for national parliaments. The strongly intergovernmental design of the ESM might have worked to dilute the differences between federalist and intergovernmentalist policymakers, as discussed above.

  • [1] Figure A7.1 shows similar plots for two additional variables considered in previous chapters:popular Euroscepticism and parliamentary committee competences (Martin and Depauw 2011).However, these plots do not indicate clear relationships between these variables and parliamentaryESM rights. The figure also shows relationships between ESM-rights, parliamentary adaptation, andArticle-13 conference preferences on the one hand, and a country's receipts from the EU budgetand level of debt. In this case, there are signs of relationships: political-economic salience appearsto have an impact on Article-13 conference preferences. These relationships are in line with theresults presented in the section titled 'Analysis'.
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