The development of a European political class in the EP: a longitudinal analysis of MEPs’ career patterns (1979-2019)

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The European Parliament (EP)’s formal authority has considerably expanded since 1979. As a result, several studies have – conceptually and empirically – posited the development of a European political class over time. Since Scarrow (1997)’s seminal distinction between ‘EP careerists’, ‘domestic- oriented MEPs’, and ‘short-term politicians’, there has been no comprehensive and longitunal analyses of MEPs’ career patterns in the EP, though. This paper presents the first systematic empirical analysis of all 3,654 MEPs’ career patterns from the 28 Member States over 40 years (1979-2019). Using Borchert’s (2011) analytical framework, the paper analyses how the “attractiveness”, “accessibility” and “availability” of offices in the EP has shaped MEPs’ career patterns. The main conclusion is that the development of a European political class is a distinctive trend of the EP. Furthermore, despite the recent rise of Euroscepticism, the professionalization of MEPs has never been as large as in the latest legislative terms. Yet, EPGs do not contribute equally to the rise of this European political class. On the opposite, fragmentation of party systems in the late 2000s and early 2010s has questioned the (historical) contribution of some of the most influential EPGs. In this wake, the paper argues that these latest developments could undermine the EP’s formal policy-making capacity in the near future, as illustrated by the 2019 European elections (largest turnover and biggest electoral success of Eurosceptic parties).
Original languageFrench
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2022
Event11th Biennial Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on the European Union - Luiss University, Rome, Italy
Duration: 8 Jun 202210 Jun 2022

Scientific committee

Scientific committee11th Biennial Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on the European Union

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