University of Limerick
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Rapporteur‐shadow rapporteur networks in the European Parliament: the strength of small numbers

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-05-18, 13:40 authored by Frank M. Häge, Nils Ringe
Specialization and delegation of policy leadership within committees is the norm rather than the exception in legislatures around the world. Yet, little research has studied the sub-groups of lawmakers who serve as policy-leaders on particular bills. This paper uses conceptual and methodological tools from social network analysis to investigate the groups’ composition and relational structure. It tests the proposition that limited human resources lead lawmakers from small parties to more frequently engage with a greater number of colleagues from other parties across a wider range of policy areas. This may have important relational benefits that have the potential to outweigh the structural disadvantages of small party size. We examine whether small party lawmakers participate more, are more central, and have greater potential for brokerage in policymaking networks, or if the constraints associated with small party size and/or particular ideological leanings prevent their realization. Empirically, our analyses focus on working relationships between rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs in the adoption of reports by standing committees of the 7th European Parliament (2009-2014). Methodologically, we employ a mixed methods approach. Our quantitative analyses show that small party size does not affect legislators’ participation in policymaking networks, but that it increases legislators’ centrality and brokerage potential. Regarding ideology, being committed to democratic participation as a good in itself has a positive association with all three outcomes, while attitudes to European integration show no effect. Our qualitative data suggest that the relational benefits of belonging to a small party partially mitigate the structural disadvantages associated with it. They also indicate that policymaking in the European Parliament is quite inclusive, as any systematic exclusion tends to be the result of self-marginalisation.



European Journal of Political Research; 58 (1), pp. 209-235


Wiley and Sons Ltd




This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: European Journal of Political Research which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.



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