Party politics

Petra Ahrens and Lise Rolandsen Agustin*

Researching transnational party politics is a quite recent addition to the scholarly debate on European integration (e.g. Andeweg 1995; Bardi 1994; Hix and Lord 1997). Mainstream research mainly focuses on formal institutions; it can be broadly divided into: (1) the analysis of parties and political groups as elements of a parliamentary party-based European Union (EU) democracy (Westlake 2019); (2) the electoral successes and failures of (Euro)parties and voter-party congruence in the European Parliament (EP) (Mattila and Raunio 2006; Stockemer and Sundstrom 2019; Schmitt andThomassen 1999); (3) political group cohesion and measures to ensure it (Hix et al. 2005,2007; McElroy and Benoit 2007,2010,2012;Yordanova 2013); and (4) party positions towards European integration (Brack 2018; Almeida 2012). Gender perspectives have not played a role in mainstream research, except for studies of womens representation in the European Parliament (Fortin-Rittberger and Rittberger 2014; 2015; Stockemer and Sundstrom 2019).

Illuminating connections between Europarties, national parties, and European Parliament political groups, this chapter focuses on the latter and their performance regarding gender equality and gendered representation in the European Parliament. After describing the composition, powers, and position of political groups in the EU system, it attends to electoral systems, political recruitment, and gendered representation. This includes insights on (gendered) electoral support, electoral campaigns, political recruitment, and the gendered outcome of European Parliament elections and leadership positions. Next, we explore political groups’position on gender equality and anti-discrimination, as well as the resulting parliamentary output, such as legislation and reports. Finally, the chapter examines formal and informal working procedures in the European Parliament, specifically those regarding group-cohesion rates (roll-call votes) and the left—right divide versus consensus-oriented practices of grand coalitions. Particular attention is paid to the three major committees for gender equality policy: the Committee on Womens Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM),the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL),and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).The final section highlights research gaps and directions for future research.

* Petra Ahrens’ work received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under grant agreement No. 771676 of the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

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