Party Politics Triumph over Substantive Scrutiny and Principled Policy: Examining Czech MPs’ Voting Behaviour in Regard to EU Affairs
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The paper deals with the European dimension of the competition and contention between Czech political parties and argues that domestic party interests undermine the formal oversight of EU politics by the Czech national parliament. Within the current institutional arrangements, national political parties assume stances – which are expressed through voting – towards the European Union (and European integration as such) as they act in the arena of national parliaments that are supposed to make the EU more accountable in its activities. Based on an analysis of roll-calls, the paper focuses on the ways the political parties assume their stances towards the EU and how the parties check this act by voting on EU affairs. The paper examines factors that should shape parties’ behaviour (programmes, positions in the party system, and public importance of EU/European integration issues). It also focuses on party expertise in EU/European issues and asserts that EU/European integration issues are of greater importance in extra-parliamentary party competition than inside the parliament, suggesting a democratic disconnect between voters and parliamentary behaviour. The study’s empirical analysis of voting behaviour of Czech MPs also shows that the parliamentary scrutiny introduced by the Lisbon Treaty is undermined by party interests within the system.