Career Ambitions and Roles in the European Parliament A case study of the 2014 French delegation to the European People's Party
The research aim of this Master’s thesis is to explore to what extent the roles that politicians play in parliamentary structures are shaped and influenced by their career ambitions. More precisely, the thesis proposes to investigate this relation in a « unique institutional laboratory »: the European Parliament (EP). The main assumption of the thesis is that it is possible to establish a clear relationship between the way Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) relate to their career plans and the way they interpret their parliamentary roles. In order to answer the research question, the thesis proceeds with a qualitative and explorative case study of “specific” politicians in a “specific” context: French members of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the 2014-2019 legislature of the EP. Based on eight respondents semi-structured interviews and on background information on the political profiles of the different interviewees, the thesis demonstrates that the French delegation mobilizes three different representative styles shaped by different ambitions: the European Animator, the French Politician and the Local Specialist. These ideal-types are the results of an abductive and motivational approach to the empirical material, which allows in turn the thesis to enter directly in discussion with mainstream previous research, namely the American political science “ambition theory”. Whereas the thesis agrees with American political scientists that there clearly is a relationship between the interpretations MEPs make of their role(s) and their (un)revealed career goals, it however advocates for more nuanced and contextualized tools of analyses of ambitions. The thesis ends with concluding remarks on the implications of the empirical findings for previous and future research.