Talking Europe, Using Europe - The EU’s role in Parliamentary Competition in Italy and Spain (1986-2006)

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García Lupato, Fabio (2012) Talking Europe, Using Europe - The EU’s role in Parliamentary Competition in Italy and Spain (1986-2006). In National Parliaments, Electorates and EU Affairs. Political Science Series (129). Institute for Advanced Studies, Viena, pp. 29-45. ISBN 1605-8003

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Official URL: https://www.ihs.ac.at/publications/pol/pw_129.pdf



Abstract

The EU's influence, pressure for adaptation exercised on domestic political institutions and actors, has been studied in different and complementary ways. Regarding political parties and party competition, the analyses have been mainly centred on electoral competition, while studies on parliaments have focused more on institutional adaptation, the development of European committees and other control mechanisms. However, in addition to this more technical role, parliament also plays an important role as an institution for debating political and policy alternatives. The relevance of the parliamentary arena is even more important when dealing with the EU and how parties and leaders ‘domesticate’ and use European opportunities and constraints. The increasing European competences and their growing relevance for an increasing number of policy domains means that references to EU's processes and decisions have become almost unavoidable for presenting coherent and feasible political and policy proposals, which is a crucial and distinctive aspect of the parliamentary arena. In this article, rather than focusing on specific European issues (such as treaty ratifications or government conclusions on Council meetings) the analysis will be centred on general policy debates analysing the role that the EU plays in parties’ and leaders’ discourses. This approach can be useful in different ways. First, in contrast to elections, some parliamentary debates are held annually, which is crucial when dealing with a time sensitive issue such as integration and its policies. Second, strategies and issues may vary between the electoral and the parliamentary arena, where certain debates may be unavoidable and parties have to take a more or less clear position. Third, parties’ and leaders’ strategies may vary depending on their role on the system and whether they are in government, in opposition or supporting the incumbent party. Thus, political competition dynamics, the role of “Europe” on parties’ and leaders’ discourses and the way they conceptualise it vis-à-vis the citizens can be different than in electoral competition, providing us with new and complementary insights in the ways parties adapt and react to integration. The article therefore analyses the usages of “Europe” in parliamentary debates in the two largest Southern European countries Italy and Spain, including 13 parties/coalitions covering the whole political spectrum. Two broad and relevant types of debates have been selected, investiture debates and budget debates covering a long time span (1987-2006). The comparative research design, analysing different parties and debates in a 20 year period, allows us to observe whether the EU is gaining importance over time (or not), the impact of Europe on parliamentary competition, the evolution of parties’ position towards the EU and, more generally, the consequences of integration for parties and citizens.


Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Social sciences > Political science > Political parties
ID Code:64345
Deposited On:10 Mar 2021 09:39
Last Modified:10 Mar 2021 10:17

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