Döring, Holger

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Electoral and Mechanical Causes of Divided Government in the European Union

2008, Manow, Philip, Döring, Holger

Voters who participate in elections to the European Parliament (EP) apparently use these elections to punish their domestic governing parties. Many students of the EU therefore claim that the party political composition of the Parliament should systematically differ from that of the EU Council. This study shows that opposed majorities between council and parliament may have other than simply electoral causes. The logic of domestic government formation works against the representation of more extreme and EU-skeptic parties in the Council, whereas voters in EP elections vote more often for these parties. The different locations of Council and Parliament are therefore caused by two effects: a mechanical effect relevant for the composition of the Council when national votes are translated into office and an electoral effect in European elections. The article discusses the implications of this finding for our understanding of the political system of the EU and of its democratic legitimacy.