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Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union$
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Hermann Schmitt and Jacques Thomassen

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198296614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198296614.001.0001

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Issue Congruence

Issue Congruence

(p.186) 9 Issue Congruence
Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union

Jacques Thomassen (Contributor Webpage)

Hermann Schmitt (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter is the fourth of six on the question of political representation in the EU, and the last of four that put the five requirements of the Responsible Party Model (outlined in Ch. 6) to an empirical test. The question investigated here is to what extent, at the end of the political process, parties and voters of similar political outlook find each other, i.e. that there is an issue congruence between members of the European Parliament and their constituents. A related issue is also included in the analysis—the extent to which the members of national parliaments are representative of their voters, since both channels of representation must be accounted for in any assessment of the quality of political representation in the EU. The first part of the chapter looks at the general question of the extent to which the European Parliament as a whole is representative of the European people as a whole; this analysis gives a mixed picture. The main analysis on political representation and issue congruence is then presented, and again gives a mixed—and somewhat paradoxical—result; the paradox is that the system of political representation at the European level, as measured against the criteria of the Responsible Party Model, is feasible so long as it is not concerned with issues that refer to the EU as such.

Keywords:   European Parliament, EU, issue congruence, national parliaments, political representation, Responsible Party Model

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