[REPORT] Kelbel, C., Navarro, J. & Neihouser, M. (2021) Report on alternative institutional options to democratise and re-legitimate the EU polity in the eyes of its citizens – An analysis of the congruence between MEPs and their voters on the EU political system, RECONNECT EU-Project, April 2021


[…] In its simplest form, this report asks how congruent the preferences of elected representatives and voters are as regards democracy at the supranational level and the reform of EU institutions.As such, looking at congruence is the mere observation of the extent to which political representatives share the views of voters; it does not account for how MEPs may change their positions to match those of the people they seek to represent a process rather known as responsiveness. We therefore follow Beyer and Hänni (2018) in drawing a clear line between congruence, defined as the static overlap between citizens and their representatives’ preferences, and responsiveness, which suggests a dynamic (and, even, causal) relationship between the movements of public opinion and the responseof elites. The report further explores the extent to which individual features of the MEPs can explain their degree of agreement with their voters. To do so, we draw our expectations from different streams of theories, dealing respectively with the EU policy drift, secondorder elections and the role of MEPs. We evidence that it is the parties, not the voters that drive polarization on issues debated in the EU, and that specific individuallevel features of the MEPs, such as their local anchor or the ways in which they conceive their mandate are correlated with a specific level of agreement with their party’s voters.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under Grant Agreement no. 770142. The information in this deliverable reflects only the authors’ views and the European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.


Project: RECONNECT –Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and Rule of Law

GA: 770142

Horizon 2020: H2020-SC6-CULT-COOP-2017-two-stage

Funding Scheme: Collaboration Project