SOCIAL IDENTITIES, VOTING BEHAVIOUR AND DEFECTION IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT A quantitative study of plenary roll-call votes during the Common Agricultural Policy reform (2020-2021)
The aim of this thesis is twofold. First, it investigates analytically whether social identities and financial interests influenced voting behaviour during the reform of the CAP, precisely the percentage of defection of MEPs towards their respective EPGs. Second, it questions the empirical fit of SIPP theory with dissenting voting behaviour. A brief literature review reveals that the factors of voting behaviour, including defection, are a rather well-studied topic. However, the role of financial and outside interests, and generally of social identities, on MEPs’ defection has never been entirely examined within the framework of the EP. Based on the Social Identity in the Policy Process theory, it was conjectured that social identities do influence MEPs’ percentage of defection. Methodologically, a dataset was created, combining existing public data containing MEPs’ voting behaviour, financial and outside interests, as well as political ideologies and national statistics. A purposive sample of plenary roll-call votes was selected among plenary session votes on the legislative proposals of the CAP presenting lower levels of cohesion in October 2020 and November 2021. To measure a possible correlation of social identities and percentage of defection, the hypothesis was tested quantitatively using linear regressions on 603 individuals. Empirically, the results substantiate the hypothesis of a significant influence of social identities on the percentage of defection of MEPs and confirms that SIPP is a valid theory to observe voting behaviour. The findings have important implications for our understanding of the politicians’ interests and political behaviour.
European Parliament, voting behaviour, defection, agricultural policy, Social Identity Theory (SIT), outside earnings, moonlighting