Blurred lines between electoral and parliamentary representation: The use of constituency staff among Members of the European Parliament

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Publication Date 2023
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Parliamentarians receive public funding to employ local staff in the constituency. Local staff help members of parliament to execute their representative duties, but can also become an electoral asset. Drawing on theories of personal vote-seeking we study local staff as an example of constituency service.

Modelling within-individual changes in local staff size among 1174 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), we find that the number of local staff increases before both European and national elections, and more so in candidate-centered than party-centered systems. Despite a single European Parliament (EP) staff system, EU citizens are represented differently depending on where they elect their members and the electoral system that applies Attempts to mend the EU’s democratic deficit by strengthening MEPs’ contacts with citizens through local staff potentially means that European public money is used to fund EP incumbents’ electoral campaigns.

We discuss the implications of our findings for the democratic functioning of the European multi-level system.

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London School of Economics (LSE): EUROPP Blog, 23/02/2023: How do local staff contribute to the representation of citizens in the EU?

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