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Towards a partisan theory of EU politics

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A decade ago parties were largely absent from research on and theories of EU politics. The role of parties is now a central part of the research agenda, particularly in the area of EU legislative politics. The new research on parties in EU politics has made significant theoretical contributions, led to the collection and dissemination of new datasets, and employs some of the most advanced statistical methods in contemporary European political science. What is still missing, however, is a general theory of the role and impact of political parties, which helps to explain actors' behaviour in EU politics in a range of situations. This paper sketches some of the basic elements of what might be called a 'partisan theory of EU politics', starting from a discussion of how the policy and office incentives of national parties are shaped by the EU's 'upside-down polity'.

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