Ideology in times of crisis. A principal component analysis of votes in the European Parliament, 2004-2019

Cheysson AnatoleFraccaroli Nicolò
CEIS Research Paper
This paper aims to identify the main dividing lines that determine the voting behaviour of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and their evolution throughout the crisis. Introducing a new database that collects and classifies the full population of plenary votes from 2004 to 2019, this work uses principal component analysis to identify the latent patterns on which MEPs ally and divide. Focussing on economic votes, it finds that, while pre-crisis votes were mainly determined by differences across the left-vs-right spectrum and, only secondly, by differences in support for European integration, the crisis inverted this trend, making support for Europe the most relevant dividing line in the European Parliament. In support of this evidence, the paper introduces a new vote-scraping technique to investigate the ideological nature of these dimensions. Vote scraping reveals that the left-right cleavage is mainly ideological but with limited impact on budgetary resources, whereas the European dimension mostly reflects a conflict over the budget, with higher legislative impact and seemingly low ideological content.

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Number: 461
Keywords: Ideology,European Parliament,Crisis
JEL codes: P16,C38
Volume: 17
Issue: 5
Date: Friday, June 28, 2019
Revision Date: Friday, June 28, 2019