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Explaining Contestation: Votes in the Council of the European Union

Decisions by the Council of the European Union where all member states' governments are represented are important for European policy-making. Using new data, this chapter examines voting behaviour in the Council of the European Union between 2010 and 2021.

Arash Pourebrahimi, Madeleine O. Hosli & Peter van Roozendaal
05 May 2023
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The article investigates more than 1229 legislative decisions taken in the Council, based on over 30,000 votes. Controlling for aspects such as public attitudes toward the EU and whether a member state held the Council presidency, the authors use a random effects binomial logit model in which they divide votes into two categories: support and objection. In addition to this, an ordered logit model is used, where voting decisions are ordered based on the level of support for a vote.

The chapter first locates member state governments on different policy dimensions, such as left-right and pro-/anti integration attitudes. It explores such positions for both individual EU states member states and all member states as represented in the Council for the 2010 to 2021 time span. Thereafter, a statistical analysis demonstrates that net contributors to the EU budget are more likely to contest a vote in the Council of the EU. Moreover, the further the ideological (left-right) position of a member state from a winning coalition in the Council, the higher the chance it contests the vote. No evidence is found, however, for relations between voting power (as a proxy for member state size) and the probability of a negative vote.

With this, the chapter builds on earlier research on this topic, but extends the analysis to the recent past and uses an extended and updated dataset. It adds to earlier insights by an extensive descriptive analysis as well as novel statistical approaches.

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