An Electoral Connection in European Parliament Voting


  • Support for this project was provided by SFB 884 “Political Economy of Reforms” at the University of Mannheim. I thank David Fortunato, Thomas Gschwend, Sven Oliver Proksch, and Nikoleta Yordanova for comments on an earlier draft of this article.


Concerns about endogeneity often complicate attempts to estimate a causal link between public opinion and the voting records of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). In this article, I overcome this problem by exploiting a rare natural experiment—the surprising and exogenous revelation of Irish public opinion that resulted from Ireland's ratification of the Nice treaty. I find that the Irish electorate's rejection of Nice caused Ireland's European Parliament delegation to vote in a more conservative manner, while its subsequent ratification caused a partial reversal of this shift. My finding of an electoral connection on the Nice treaty casts doubt on the claim that MEPs are largely unconstrained by voter preferences on European issues, despite claims of a democratic deficit in European institutions.