chapter  6
21 Pages

Individuals vs. parties

Comparing MPs’ positions to the positions of their own parties
ByMarko Kukec, Bojana Kocijan, Luca Verzichelli

This chapter faces the question of whether and to what extent party positions condition the attitudes of individual members towards the European Union (EU). In so doing, the chapter offers a significant contribution to a rather narrow field of research on party agreement of MPs. The recent economic crisis has facilitated the contention over European integration. In light of an emerging divide on the EU, we aim to uncover any signs of divisions within political parties and to explain individual dissent from party position on European integration. By comparing data from the Chapel Hill Expert Survey scores from 2014 and those of the elite survey collected within the ‘European National Elites and the Crisis’ (ENEC) project in 2014, the chapter investigates the factors affecting the coherence between party and individual positions, particularly the organisational characteristics of the party and the relative position of the individual within the party organisation. We find high levels of agreement between MPs and their parties. We also find some steering capacity of party leaders in shaping the attitudes of their MPs, visible from the differences between party families. Despite the marked organisational decline of political parties across Western and Central-Eastern Europe, party leaderships still prove capable of performing their basic functions of catering the party brand and ensuring legislative success of their parties.