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Policy positioning in the European Parliament

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Party politics in the European Parliament (EP) consists of competition between transnational party groups, each consisting of multiple national member parties from the 27 member states of the European Union (EU). Identifying the policy space that these parties inhabit and their ideological positions is both practically and conceptually challenging. In this article we characterize this policy competition by tracking EP political groups from three separate, original expert surveys taken in 2004, 2007 and 2010. We look at the relative positioning of the groups on multiple dimensions of policy, as well as changes in party group policy since 2004. Additionally, we characterize the policy cohesion of party groups by examining the relative positions of each group's constituent parties, using independent national-level expert surveys. The results reinforce previous findings that EP party groups occupy the entire range of the left-right spectrum and, moreover, that their national party makeup consists of parties that are broadly cohesive in terms of their policy locations.

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