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Gail McElroy and Kenneth Benoit, "Party Groups and Policy Positions in the European Parliament," Party Politics, 13 (January 2007), 5-28.

First Paragraph:
Legislative activity and decision-making in the European Parliament (EP) is organized around political groups, partisan entities that perform most of the same functions at the transnational level as do parties in national parliaments. Political groups act as the gatekeepers to legislative amendments and the vast bulk of interruptive and procedural motions in the EP. In addition, political group size determines membership of committees and most other key parliamentary decision-making bodies. Despite the important role played by these groups in the functioning of the increasingly powerful EP, however, our understanding and knowledge of the policy space in which they compete remain rudimentary. This article addresses this gap in our knowledge by reporting the results of an expert survey of the policy positions of the political groups in the EP.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Political party groups in European Parliament pre-2004 election
Table 2. Policy positions of European party groups
Figure 1. European party groups on the general left-right scale
Figure 2. EP party group locations in two-dimensional space
Table 3. Salience of policy dimensions, by European party group
Table 4. Principal components analysis of expert judgments of party positions
Figure 3. EP party group positions and the distribution of national member parties, left-right scores

Second Paragraph of Conclusion:
Our results indicate that on the two most salient dimensions (Taxes versus Spending and EU Federalism) there appear to be three broad sets of party blocs: the PES, Greens and GUE on the redistributive left and prointegrationist in character; the EPP and ELDR on the centre-right of the redistributive spectrum but broadly pro-integrationist; and finally the UEN and EDD in their own policy region on the economic right and distinctly Eurosceptic on the EU Federalism dimension.

last updated February 2007