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The Compatibility of Irish Political Parties with their Political Groups in the European Parliament


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  • 1. The Compatibility of Irish PoliticalParties with their Political Groups in the European Parliament Cillian Griffey Master of Arts in European Politics and Governance 2012
  • 2. Title PageTitle: The Compatibility of Irish Political Parties with their PoliticalGroups in the European Parliament.Name: Cillian GriffeyID No: 0730955Degree: Master of Arts in European Governance and Politics.Supervisor: Dr. Rory CostelloSubmission Date: 3th September 2012I declare that all work is the authors own and is submitted in accordancewith the requirements of the European Governance and Politics Degree atthe University of Limerick.Signed: ______________________ i    
  • 3. AbstractOur elected MEPs are voted in every five years but do we know anything about the groups withwhich they affiliate to and are they suitable? This study examines the compatibility of Irishpolitical parties in their European groupings and draws on roll-call votes in the Parliament tomeasure compatibility indirectly by looking at the behaviour of MEPs. The normal party systemevident in most EU Member States follows the left- right spectrum and is based on ‘partyfamilies’. The Irish party system is different. For example during the 1990s 70% of support wentto the centre right parties in Ireland, while this compares to 40% in other European countries.The Irish case is an interesting case and one that warrants study. Through the use ofsophisticated statistical methods developed by political scientists at VoteWatch Europe andthrough analysis of European Parliament speeches, the analysis to measure compatibility wasundertaken. The findings suggest that tensions do exist to a great extent between Fianna Fáil andALDE especially on the Civil Liberties and Gender Equality policy areas and thus overalldisloyalty with their group amounts to 10.29%. The study shows that the Labour party are verycompatible with S&D with 98.28% loyalty. Finally Fine Gael’s compatibility was questioned onEconomic and Monetary policies and also Civil Liberties with a 4.80% overall disloyalty rate.Fine Gael are compatible overall with the European People’s party.  ii  
  • 4. Table of Contents Title page .................................................................................................................... i Abstract .....................................................................................................................ii Table of Contents .................................................................................................... iii Table of Contents ..................................................................................................... iv List of Figures ........................................................................................................... v            List of Tables ............................................................................................................ vi            Acknowledgements .................................................................................................vii Abbreviations ........................................................................................................ viii Chapter 1: Introduction .................................................................................................. 1 1.0 Introduction ..................................................................................................... 2 1.1 Area of Investigation ...................................................................................... 3 1.2 Interest in Topic ............................................................................................. 5 1.3 Research Methodology ................................................................................... 6 1.4 Brief Summary of Findings ............................................................................ 7 1.5 Structure of Study ........................................................................................... 8 Chapter 2: Literature Review ......................................................................................... 9 2.0 Introduction .................................................................................................. 10 2.1 European Parliament Group Membership ................................................... 11 2.2 European Parliament Party Systems ............................................................. 16 2.3 Irish Party System......................................................................................... 18 2.4 Expectations ................................................................................................. 21 Chapter 3: Methodology .............................................................................................. 23 3.0 Introduction .................................................................................................. 24 iii      
  • 5. Table of Contents   3.1 Research Question ........................................................................................ 24 3.2 Context of Research ..................................................................................... 25 3.3 Research Methods ........................................................................................ 25 3.4 Research Design ........................................................................................... 25 3.5 Data Analysis ................................................................................................ 26 3.6 Limitations of Research ................................................................................ 26 Chapter 4: Research Findings and Discussions ...................................................... 28 4.0 Introduction .................................................................................................. 29 4.1 Foreign and Security Policy ......................................................................... 32 4.2 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs .................................................... 36 4.3 Gender Equality ............................................................................................ 41 4.4 Economic and Monetary Affairs .................................................................. 45 Chapter 5: Conclusion ............................................................................................. 51 5.0 Restatement of objective .............................................................................. 52 5.1 Summary of Findings ................................................................................... 52 5.2 Relevance of Findings .................................................................................. 56 5.3 Main Issues identified in the Research ......................................................... 57 5.4 Recommendations ........................................................................................ 57 Bibliography .......................................................................................................... 59 Appendix ................................................................................................................ 67  iv      
  • 6. List of FiguresFigure 1 (a): All Policy Areas Percentage Disloyalty ................................................. 29Figure 1: Irish Political Party Disloyalty in the European Parliament......................... 30Figure 2: Foreign and Security Policy ......................................................................... 32Figure 3: Civil Liberties ............................................................................................... 36Figure 4: Gender Equality Policy ................................................................................ 41Figure 5: Economic and Monetary Affairs ................................................................. 45 v        
  • 7. List of TablesTable 1.0: Disloyalty by percentage by policy area in figures ..................................... 67Table 1.1: Loyalty by percentage by policy area in figures ......................................... 67       vi      
  • 8. Acknowledgements I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Rory Costello, my researchsupervisor, for his patient guidance, enthusiastic encouragement and useful critiquesof this research work. A Lecturer’s time is precious and I recognise that and I want tothank him sincerely for his help. My grateful thanks are also extended to my friends who have put up with mediscussing my projects progress and for being understanding. Finally, I wish to thankmy parents for their support and encouragement throughout my study. vii        
  • 9. AbbreviationsALDE Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for EuropeCAP Common Agricultural PolicyCCCTB Common Consolidated Corporate Tax BaseDIRT Deposit Interest Retention TaxECR European Conservatives and ReformistsEFA European Free AllianceEFD Europe of Freedom and DemocracyELDR The European Liberal Democrat and Reform partyEP European ParliamentEPP European People’s PartyEU European UnionFF Fianna FáilFG Fine GaelGUE European United LeftLAB The Labour PartyLGBT Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender CommunityMEP Member of the European ParliamentMNC Multinational CorporationNGO Non-Governmental OrganisationNGL Nordic Green LeftOSCE Organisation for Security and Co-operation in EuropePES The Party of European SocialistsPM Prime MinisterS&D The Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats viii        
  • 10. Chapter 1: Introduction                         1      
  • 11. 1.0 Introduction The majority of Irish people’s awareness of the European party groupings,which the Irish parties fit into, is limited. A disconnect is still apparent with theEuropean institutions even though there is a lot of publicity relating to them presently.I undertake this study to determine the extent to which Irish political partiesideologically fit with their European groupings. The research question asks thequestion: “Are Irish political parties compatible with their European Parliamentgroupings? This will be analysed through looking at MEPs behaviour based on roll-call votes. There is practical importance to my research. The attitude abroad to the Irishpolitical make up tends to ask the question why are the two largest political parties inIreland (before election 2011) both centre right parties? It is practically important tofind out reasons whether the groups they are members with at a European level aresuited ideologically. The societal importance of the research is that when the Irishpeople go to the polls at the next European Parliament elections in 2014 they shouldbe fully informed as to whom they are voting for. People should be interested in thefindings of my study to further their own opinions on the people they elect to Europe,the issues they vote on and what values and opinions their fellow group membersrepresent in the Parliament. 2      
  • 12. 1.1 Area of Investigation There has been little research looking at the Irish case in particular in relationto this area. This research is of relevance academically because it adds to the existingbody of literature. Previous studies stopped short on analysing the Irish politicalparties role in their groupings and if their national party identities get clouded in thebusy and crowded European Parliament structure. For example questions were asked around why a centre right Fianna Fáil partywent into Government with the Green party and now we see another centre right FineGael party in Government with a centre left Labour party. The perceived simpleanswer is that it all comes back to civil war politics. Fianna Fáil’s decision in 2009 forinstance to join the Liberal grouping ALDE came as a shock to some. The groupwould be considered pro-abortion by some and in support of embryonic stem cellresearch and euthanasia and known for its hostility to the Common AgriculturalPolicy. (CiNews 2009) When the job of President of the European Council came up, the Taoiseach atthe time, Brian Cowen was stuck in a bad place because neither of the two candidatesthat he supported for the position were ELDR/ALDE members or of the liberalleaning. He threw his weight behind former Taoiseach and EPP member, John Brutonand also Former British PM and PES member, Tony Blair. Then moving on toproceedings in the European Parliament and a motion was put forward by ALDE,which criticised the freedom of information laws in Italy. Fianna Fáil’s abstentionmeant that the Liberal-origin resolution was tied with 338 votes in favour and 338votes against, infuriating Liberal group leader, Guy Verhofstadt. (EU observer 2009) 3      
  • 13. Every other party in the ELDR (group in ALDE) has a long-standing traditionof liberalism. It is odd that Fianna Fáil were admitted to this grouping in the firstplace. If we look to the 1980s and their stances, which opposed divorce, contraceptionand the Anglo-Irish Agreement, it begs the question why they joined with the group.Perhaps a shift in ALDE to the European Democratic Party might be fitting. Theywould get the benefit of affiliation at an international level with centrist USDemocrats through the Alliance of Democrats, which would stand them in goodstead. Briefly looking at the resolutions that were passed by ELDR at their congressin the run up to the 2009 European elections and an interesting point appears underthe heading ‘Women’s entitlement over their own bodies’. It states that: “ SeveralEuropean countries are, for example, violating women’s rights to control over theirown bodies. Among others, Poland, Ireland, Portugal and Malta have enforcedrestrictive, conservatively founded, regulations regarding the legalisation of abortions.As a result, many women die after being forced into seeking illegal and unsafeabortions.” (ELDR 2008) This was printed in their document in 2008, a year beforeFianna Fáil joined them. This was a scathing attack on the country and a governmentparty at the time being affiliated with this grouping was sure to raise eyebrows. The months prior to the 2009 European election was an interesting time forFine Gael also. The draft of the EPP manifesto in 2009 included details of their plansto abandon their opposition to euthanasia, eugenics and cloning and also support fortraditional marriage. (Kelly, 2009) This draft manifesto was a large step backwardsfrom a pro-life and family viewpoint in comparison with the previous EPP manifestoin 2004. Fine Gael staged their opposition to this and said that they were confident 4      
  • 14. that the EPP would accept amendments on pro-life and pro-family before theelections took place. All five FG MEPs backed moves to amend the draft version ofthe manifesto to reflect earlier positions. After a lot of debate, the EPP congress inWarsaw met and agreed the final version and Fine Gael MEPs got there way and themanifesto was fully pro-family, pro-life and pro-religion. If the earlier proposals wereincluded Fine Gael could have been badly impacted on polling day due to its groupsstance on the issues. The Labour party has not had any major events like the two aforementionedmainly because they haven’t been as many Labour MEPs in S&D. From 1999 to 2004Proinsias De Rossa was the only Labour MEP elected and joined S&D and the samehappened for the 2004-2009 term. This current EP term sees 3 Labour MEPs electedand all three have issues they want to prioritise. However, their reluctance to join withthe other Irish delegations in voting against CCCTB and moves towards taxharmonization have raised eyebrows.1.2 Interest in Topic The power of the institutions has noticeably increased because of the financialdifficulties so many European countries find themselves in. An institution that is therecipient of minimal Irish media coverage is the European Parliament. This has to bereflective of the Irish people’s interest in European politics. This argument has beenrelatively vindicated in the turnout of many European referenda in the years preceding. The spotlight needs to be put back on the Parliament due to the work they doand the issues they tackle and vote on every day. There is a disconnect between thepeople and the work that MEPs do in the Parliament and on the issues they vote on, 5      
  • 15. on our behalf. Politics is sadly no longer a subject of interest for most young peopledue to disinterest or disillusionment due to scandals and corruption. By bringing theIrish political parties relationship with their European colleagues to the fore, we aimto reopen the discussion that European politics plays in Ireland.1.3 Research Methodology My data collection techniques will involve analysis of roll-call voting recordsto uncover whether the MEPs have been loyal or disloyal to their European group ondifferent policy areas. This is done to ascertain the compatibility on the grounds ofideological positions between both. It is mainly a theory developing approach, whichis descriptive. The temporal domain will be from the last European election in 2009 toJuly 2012. The data sources, which will be relied on for my study, will primarily includethe records of roll-call votes and parliamentary speeches. Sources will also include thewebsites of the European parliament groupings, for example the European PeoplesParty, Socialists and Democrats etc. The European institutions have a good record ofopen and transparent information so sources from these websites and officialinstitution documents will be useful. These will consist of those from the EuroparlEuropa website with information on EP plenary meetings: Minutes, debates, andvoting records. Also access to EP committee meetings, minutes, draft reports,amendments to draft reports, voting outcomes and PreLex will be sources, which willbe used. 6      
  • 16. 1.4 Brief summary of findings The research findings show that tensions occur the most between the FiannaFáil party and their group, ALDE. They vote the opposite way to their group (‘rebel’)relatively regularly in a number of policy areas, as discussed in the research findingschapter. The areas they rebel most on are on social issues in the gender equality andcivil liberties areas respectively. They reached a 22% disloyalty (not voting the sameway as the group) rate on gender equality, which was the highest disloyalty figure ofall the three parties on all policy areas. Fine Gael was found to be relatively compatible with their group, theEuropean People’s party (EPP). Economic and monetary affairs produced theirsecond highest disaffection rate at 8.79% and common European tax issues were aheated subject area. Civil liberties were again among the most controversial and werethe highest at 8.23%. (VoteWatch Europe 2012) The Labour party, however were the most loyal Irish political party of thethree with a remarkable 98% loyalty. Labour and Socialists and Democrats (S&D) areclearly the most compatible of the three parties. The most surprising figure coming inthe foreign and security policy section where they displayed a 99.70% loyalty to S&D.Their highest dissatisfaction came in the area of agriculture. (VoteWatch Europe 2012) 7      
  • 17. 1.5 Structure of Study The introduction sets out the scope of the research project and explains thegrounds for analysis of this type. It mentions some tensions that have occurred, thathave been in the media. The data collection technique of roll-call votes is mentionedand a brief summary of findings gives context to the research. Chapter 2 consists ofthe Literature review and identifies the key debates in the research area and includesthe ideas of other researchers in the field. The chapter is divided into the relevantsections dealing with EP group membership, compatibility on the grounds of policy,cohesion in groups along with the EP and Irish party systems. The Methodology allows for the justification of the chosen research methods.It will describe how the investigation of the research question will take place. Asection on limitations of research admits that initially manifesto comparison on thegrounds of compatibility was considered but was inconclusive. Chapter 4 deals withthe research findings and discussions. It links the data with the research question andshows with examples of issues in policy areas, that tensions occur and to what degree.It discusses and analyses the findings and gives a conclusion on all findings. Conclusions are made in the last chapter and summarises the findings andshows how compatible the parties are with their groups. Recommendations are thengiven to see if the party should switch to another group or remain within the group towhich they are affiliated. A bibliography and appendix is then displayed. 8      
  • 18. Chapter 2: Literature Review 9      
  • 19. 2.0 Introduction The research question is: “Are Irish political parties compatible with theirEuropean Parliament groupings?” From analysis of the research done in relation toEuropean Party group cohesion and the ideological stance, there is a large extent ofliterature available. The literature covers many issues pertaining to the EuropeanParliament, its existence and many contributing factors to the overall make-up of theParliament. In this section the existing empirical and theoretical literature on the topicwill be reviewed. The literature reviewed has looked at questions surroundingcohesion and the party system in the European Parliament. Also looked at were thedifferences between the party groups here in Ireland and in the European Parliament. Cohesion is a fundamental theme in the existing research; as such a body ofresearch can be gained from its analysis. This takes in the reasons why a MemberState country would join a group and matching up its ideological preferences andpolicy congruencies. This is done to place the party in the best possible position tohave influence on major issues within the group and the Parliament as a whole. Thethemes or questions that are relevant to this research include: 1. On what basis doparties join European Parliament groups? , 2. What is the nature of the party system inthe European Parliament? and 3. How does the Irish party system fit in with this? 10      
  • 20. 2.1 European Parliament Group Membership The first question that needs addressing is ‘on what basis do parties joinEuropean Parliament groups?’ This topic is seen throughout a number of pieces ofliterature. Two other fundamental questions regarding this theme to be answered are;When analysis of voting records on policy areas in the Parliament is done, do IrishMEP’s vote more along national lines, together, on a particular policy area? Is theparty being loyal to the group as a whole on other policy areas thus contributing togroup cohesion? Many European Parliament groups share similar policy positions asnational parties. Policy is a determinant of group affiliation in those cases. McElroyand Benoit dealt with the issue of how partisan politics in the European Parliament isorganised around transnational party groupings, in their article on ‘Party Policy andParty Group affiliation in the European Parliament’. They construct empiricalmeasures of policy positions and the structure of policy contestation in the EU. Theydo this by comparing the national and EU levels. They also explain national partyaffiliation with EP groups as a function of policy, comparing these to estimates ofparty family. (McElroy and Benoit 2010) McElroy and Benoit’s findings suggest that policy competition in the EP is astraightforward extension of national party politics and the organisation of nationalparties into EP groups is driven by policy. Thus this explains the fundamentalunderlying force driving EP group affiliation. (McElroy and Benoit 2010) In answering the initial question at the start, it seems clear from the evidencethat the Irish MEP’s would be under pressure from both sides on the National andEuropean scene to join the right group. Policy and ideological stance would be thetwo most influential factors. There is also the pressure of cohesion. On the one hand 11      
  • 21. there is pressure to be loyal on a certain percentage of issues in order to present unityin their group. On the other hand, voting cohesion could be used to avoid nationalattention. This is done by not voting against their national party on a controversialissue that forms part of a fundamental policy they hold. This reading has shown thatpolicy compatibility even before affiliation to a group is crucial as difficulties couldemerge very quickly. While acknowledging some differences, group cohesion does grow over time.The increased role of National parties in the European Parliament is seen inWhitaker’s book on ‘National Parties in the European Parliament’ and believes this isnow more likely to have an impact on national parties’ policy choices and on electoralfortunes. The article compares the voting behaviour of committee contingents withtheir national party delegations on the basis of roll-call votes. The author makesreference to something an Irish MEP said when questioned. He says that MEPsthemselves suggest that cue taking on the basis of trust in other members of theirnational party delegation is a significant factor in their decision-making. The IrishMEP said: “…Not a lot of the votes that I participate in, …I haven’t a clue what I’m voting for…. you assume that on issues, even though you’re not involved in them, that you’re singing from the same hymn sheet, so it’s ok to follow them.” (Whitaker 2005, p.9) The results from the analysis support the assertion that, as the EuropeanParliament’s actions matter more, national parties have become more concerned withtheir MEPs’ activities. It seems clear from the evidence that the more the MEP’s thinkthat their activities are being watched from Dublin, the more pressure they will feel to 12      
  • 22. follow the national party line. This is especially the case if their party is inGovernment in that country. (Whitaker 2005) Compatibility and membership of groups as well as the factors behind politicalGroup membership in the European Parliament are investigated in Bressanelli’sarticle. The research is based on two arguments. One is the traditional argument thatGroup membership is based on the ideological or policy compatibility of the memberparties within each political group. The second is that, joining the largest and mostinfluential groups better advances the pragmatic goals of national parties. Thefindings suggest that the policy compatibility or ideology is the most important factorbehind a party transnational affiliation. (Bressanelli 2011) The second area within this theme in the literature is policy positioncompatibilities. A key question here is; is there a particular outstanding policy area inwhich the national parties are hugely at odds in terms of voting loyalty with theirgroupings? According to McElroy and Benoit 2010, the issue of policy on its ownwould make up four-fifths of national party affiliation. This infers that policycongruence is far and away the single most important part that is encouraging themember state parties to join their respective groups. Key policy areas voted on in theparliament should be looked at especially foreign and security policy, civil libertiesand economic and monetary affairs. These are controversial topics and are sure toraise valuable insights into compatibility issues. In saying that they didn’t expectpolicy would explain every instance of national party affiliation with party groups. The area of policy compatibility is raised again in Bressanelli’s work and saysthat in the new EU-27, ideology or policy compatibility is, still, the main factor whichinfluences group membership. What this then means is that the political groups are 13      
  • 23. aggregations of like-minded parties, which share, at a minimum, similar policyobjectives. (Bressanelli 2011) The literature points to another theme that is based around the compatibility ofIrish parties and Member State parties to the Group membership in the Parliament.Some of the political parties in Ireland do not readily fit into the classical Europeandefinitions of party families. The question must be asked; is it apparent that the partyfits in ideologically and is compatible in terms of policy orientation? Hansendiscusses this in ‘The Positions of Irish Parliamentary Parties 1937-2006’. (Hansen2009) The research shows that party competition in the Dáil adheres to agovernment-opposition dimension. The estimated positions do not reflect party policypositions but are the voting cohesion of two distinct blocs of the parliamentary parties.The results from this are validated by a comparison with various expert surveys ofIrish Party positions. (Hansen 2009) A consistency of voting against the group onpolicy areas would usually point to a lack of fitness but Irish parties are different andthis must be taken in to account. Because of tradition and history, putting Irish partieswith traditional European party families is not easy to do. The third area within this theme is centred on cohesion and the question ‘howcohesive are political parties in the European Parliament?’ is asked by Hix, Noury andRoland in ‘Power to the Parties: Cohesion and Competition in the EuropeanParliament 1979-2001’. Through the collection of roll-call votes the data showsgrowing party cohesion despite growing internal national and ideological diversitywithin the European party groups. They also concluded that increased power of theEuropean Parliament has meant increased power for the transnational parties, via 14      
  • 24. increased internal party cohesion and inter-party competition. They found that theideological diversity of the national member parties of the groups has only a marginaleffect on cohesion. Therefore, there are conflicting arguments as to why groups arecohesive (Hix et al 2005) Focusing on one section of parties in particular, Green parties, several studieshave documented how organisational structures of national Green parties and theintegration of their quasi-party European counterparts have changed in response tointegration. Hines uses the example of Bomberg (2002) who reached similarconclusions arguing that Europeanisation has ‘mellowed’ the Greens’ ideology andprofessionalised their party politics. At a time when factionalism was tearing aparttheir national parties, the cohesion of the Greens in the EP actually increased. Theexternal stimuli the EP’s rules and procedures offered the Greens were more powerfulthan the shifting strengths of the factions. This is relevant because when a party isworking with other like-minded groups, similarities and commonalities come to thefore and thus cooperation and cohesion are produced. Analysis of the voting patternswill tell a lot and once a comparison with Irish MEP’s across all group affiliations ismade, a more comprehensive conclusion can be made. (Hines 2003) Kreppel and Hix discuss the changing pattern of political competition in theEuropean Parliament from a “grand coalition” of the two main parties in the 1994-1999 EP, to a new structure of left-right competition in the 1999-2004 EP. In 1996,despite the PES and EPP’s (largest party groups) apparent ideological differences andfrequently conflictual relationships, these two party groups were perceived to worktogether in bipartisan cooperation quite frequently within the EP up until the 1999 15      
  • 25. elections. Since Fine Gael and Labour are currently in government one would not besurprised with cooperation of their sister party groups in the Parliament. It isimportant to mention this, as it is relevant to the overall outlook, seeing cooperationof two political parties from two ideological wings working together at both a nationallevel and European level.2.2 European Parliament Party System The second main theme in the existing literature is centred on the whole ideaof party systems in those member countries and in the European Parliament. Does theparty system in a member country play a large role once that party partakes in aEuropean party system and what challenges are encountered? Hoyland and Godbout, in their article showed that MEPs from the oldmember states expressed a belief system, which is quite similar to that of their fellowparty group members. New member states displayed very little consistency in theirlegislative speech. This leads to the conclusion that national party delegations fromnew member states joined the existing party groups for other reasons than simpleshared ideological beliefs and goals. (Hoyland and Godbout 2008) Ireland would beconsidered an old member state so looking to see if a belief system is at play in theMEP’s decisions could be beneficial in understanding where they are coming from. A problem for the two main party groups in the EP was that, they themselvesare aggregations of sub actors: the national party delegations that make up theseparties. And these national party delegations often have different preferences overthese short-, medium-, and long-term goals. (Kreppel and Hix 2003) 16      
  • 26. A focus needs to be placed on the Irish party system in the context of theEuropean party system, which will contribute to the overall expectations of theresearch. McElroy and Benoit’s findings show that the structure of politicalcontestation in both the national and transnational arenas is substantially similar.Party groups at the transnational level not only operate in a similar policy space as donational parties, but can as well have a tending to be formed mainly as coalitions ofparties that are like-minded on matters of policy. Basically what they are saying insimple terms is that party and competition, which surrounds policy in the EP, is anextension of national politics by other means. (McElroy and Benoit 2010) Secondly in order for them to examine the relationship between nationalparties and the EP party groups to whom they affiliate, they predicted Parliamentgroup membership as a function of the policy distances between national parties andthe EP groups in the choice set. From that the result was that they strongly indicatethat how close a party group is to a national party’s policy platform determines thelikelihood that the national party will be affiliated with that EP group. The reality isthat what was found basically means that parties tend not to affiliate with party groupsthat are farther from their own preferred positions. It is the EPP, Socialist’s and Democrats (S&D) and ALDE that form the coregroup of the party system. Analysis of the party manifestos has shown that partycompetition at the European level is based around the left-right dimension. Thesystem is often known as the triangular party system in the European Parliament (EP).Competition occurs between two core blocs which is made up of the EPP on the rightand S&D on the left. The third part of the triangle is ALDE and when all areorganised and work together, they are able to form secure and winning coalitions.Hence they shut out the smaller party groupings. (Thorlakson 2005) 17      
  • 27. A comparative question must be asked in relation to the three-partyconcentration in the EP party system and if that is mirrored in the national partysystems? If the degree of incongruence is high this may point to a European partysystem where some national parties are not integrated as effectively as others.Thorlakson measured structural congruence by the party families in the system andthe result for the 25 (at the time) EU member states was that there was a high degreeof incongruence. This incongruence across national party systems and the EP suggests a highvariation in the number of relevant cleavages expressed in national party systems.This incongruence within the party family and across the national party system canaffect the effectiveness of the aggregation of national party systems into a Europeanparty system in the parliament. Nevertheless the party system in the EP is remarkablystable. The system is concentrated around the three main parties mentioned earlierwhich are core party groupings which sustain the stability. More often than not, thetraditional party families, which can be seen throughout the national party systems ofEurope, are what underpin the structure of its party competition. (Thorlakson 2005)2.3 Irish Party System Given what we have learned about the parties on the left and right, one wouldhave to expect tensions in the Irish case in particular. This research will explore howIrish parties fit with their groups on different policy dimensions. In particular, FiannaFáil’s affiliation with ALDE on social issues could be at odds. Meanwhile the Labourparty could have a good fit with S&D. The birth of the Irish party system was akin tothat of other European countries. Trying to understand the location of political actorsin policy spaces is a key feature of modern political science. (Hansen 2009) He admits 18      
  • 28. that placing the Irish parties with traditional European party families is no easyundertaking. The basic principle behind this is that party competition in the electoralarena does not sit into the left-right divide, which is seen to a greater extent in otherwest European countries. (Mair and Weeks 2005) Hansen explains that in the Irishcase, differences between the two main parties do not seem to be policy-dependentbut instead have their roots in history and tradition which most Irish people are awareof. (Hansen 2009) The label applied to Fianna Fáil has gone from a left-centre to a right-wingparty due to coalitions it formed with the Progressive Democrats. In a Europeancontext the PD’s would be considered a classical European liberal party. In relationthen to Fine Gael, a centre right party has formed coalitions with centre left Labourand once with a republican party, Clann na Poblachta. The main point here is that thedifferences between the two main parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael do not seem tobe policy dependent, but have their roots in history and traditions. For this reason, itsets Ireland apart from other European colleagues and reiterates the importance of thisstudy. (Hansen 2009) The study of politics and in particular party politics is crucial in understandingthe most fundamental processes in modern political life. The study of political partiesgives a sense of understanding of the way in which modern states actually function inpractice. Ireland is a small peripheral state and by virtue of this fact it escapes muchof the studies that decide instead to focus on larger states such as France, Germanyand the UK. The Irish case can also be overlooked because of its lack of ‘fit’ intoparty systems that are more common. This again comes back to the left-right divide orlack there of for the two main parties on opposite sides of the Dáil. (Coakley &Gallagher 2006) 19      
  • 29. The Irish case is unusual not least when one tries to use the common way tocompare systems within Europe. Usually the focus is brought to bear on issuessurrounding the origins and genetic identity of the major parties and then put them incategories of ‘party families’ such as Christian democratic, liberal and so on. Thereason this can’t be done in the Irish case is because during the 1990’s for example,70% of support went to the centre right parties (Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and theProgressive Democrats) In west European countries this figure is 45%. Turning tocentre left and the figure in Ireland for the same period was 20%. This includes theLabour party, the Greens, the Worker’s party and Democratic left. This compareswith 40% in the European countries. So in terms of support for the parties at thepolitical centre or right, the average support electorally for such parties in Ireland farexceeds that in any country neighbours. (Coakley & Gallagher 2006) The second reason and also very relevant for this study is the fact that it isaccepted that the country is an exception. When it comes to the enormous difficulty offitting the major centre-right parties into the principal European families. Fianna Fáilis a case in point. The party is regarded as a ‘secular conservative’ party. It cannot beregarded as Christian Democratic because from it origins it wasn’t looking to defendthe church against anti-religious forces. Fianna Fáil claims to fight for the poor andunderprivileged. On the nationalism front, you can compare Fianna Fáil to theGaullists in France for their patriotic appeal. They have good links in the EuropeanParliament and one can see some commonalities with at least some of its Europeanneighbours. Turning to Fine Gael and it is listed as a Christian Democratic party, which ismainly due to its membership of the European People’s party (EPP). But turning backthe clock, to be a Christian Democratic country, Catholics had to make up a large part 20      
  • 30. of the population but active practicing made up no more than a small minority andthis left the door open to secular groups to move in and become political forces. Thisdid not happen in Ireland and following the break with the Union, Catholicism inIreland was victorious. For these reasons, Christian democracy did not unfold as apolitical force in Ireland. The fact was that the church just didn’t need it. In morerecent times, the tag seems to fit more not just because the party remains with the EPPbut also because it has failed to create a more distinct identity within the party system.(Coakley & Gallagher 2006) It is important to have outlined how the Irish party system relates to theEuropean party system because expectations for this study are that Fianna Fáil will befound to be more of a misfit. This study goes further however and tracks policydecisions made in the Parliament, in terms of votes and give concrete examples ofareas of debate and clearly will point to a disillusioned party in a European family thatjust isn’t the right fit for them.2.4 Expectations To conclude, what will be undertaken in this research will be to examine thecompatibility of Irish parties with their European Parliament groups. Thedevelopment of the argument was centred on three main issues. The first wasEuropean Parliament group membership and how it is based on policy compatibilityand how the party groups are defined primarily in left-right terms, which is thedominant dimension of political competition in most member states. Secondly, theparty system in the European Parliament was looked at. Lastly, the Irish party systembecause it is different, so it is interesting to see how Irish parties fit in with their 21      
  • 31. groups. The existing literature presented in this chapter leads us to anticipate thattensions will occur. On balance the evidence suggests this because of the nature of theEuropean Parliament party group system and the nature of the Irish party system. My research will contribute to the existing literature. It will do this throughlinking Irish MEPs voting records to group affiliation to analyse compatibility whichhasn’t been individually focused on. There are few pieces of literature analysingspecifically the Irish case of compatibility with European party groupings but theliterature analysed gives insight for scope into further research. The main conclusionfrom this literature review is that party group affiliation is driven primarily by policyproximity, and that the party group system is similar to the party system in mostmember states. In saying that, the Irish party system does not fit with the Europeanmodel, so from that we might expect to find tensions. 22      
  • 32. Chapter 3: Methodology 23      
  • 33. 3.0 Introduction The case selection for my study, which has been chosen, is Irish MEPs from FineGael, the Labour party and Fianna Fáil in their European political groups; EPP, S&D andALDE. The 3 parties are looked at because they have multiple MEPs elected and are from thethree largest parties in Dáil Éireann. Compatibility can be better analysed with partydelegations in groups and it was felt that the inclusion of the one Socialist MEP and oneIndependent MEP would cloud the overall analysis and divert focus. It is clear from the evidence that the Irish case of individual party compatibility withgroups has not been researched in detail in this way and measuring compatibility indirectly bylooking at the behaviour of MEPs needs to be explored. My research will focus on four of theeight key areas of policy that are most discussed and debated during the European Parliamentplenary in Brussels and Strasbourg. I decided to concentrate on four policy areas in order togain an in-depth understanding into the most controversial issues. The areas of policy include,starting with what would be perceived as the most controversial, Foreign and Security policy,Civil Liberties and Home affairs, Economics and Monetary affairs and Gender Equality.3.1 Research question The research question is: “Are Irish political parties compatible with their EuropeanParliament groupings?” 24      
  • 34. 3.2 Context of Research The time period, which the research will explore, will be the current 7th EuropeanParliament when it began on the 14th July 2009 to July 2012. The current term will end afterthe European elections in 2014. The Irish political parties examined will be Fine Gael, FiannaFáil and the Labour Party. Furthermore the European Parliament Groups analysed will be TheEuropean People’s Party (EPP), Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and The Alliance ofLiberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).3.3 Research Methods From a quantitative perspective, the research will involve the analysis of roll-callvoting records to ascertain voting cohesion. The data sources, which I will rely on for mystudy, will primarily include the VoteWatch Europe website ( and theEuropean Parliament website ( The European institutions have agood record of open and transparent information. Sources from these websites and officialinstitution documents with information on EP plenary meetings: Minutes, debates, and votingrecords will be easily accessible. Also access to EP committee meetings, minutes, draftreports, amendments to draft reports and voting outcomes will be sources, which will be used.3.4 Research Design The advantages of the research design are that people will be able to get a clearunderstanding of the national political parties role in the EU within a wider framework. Afterthe research has concluded, people may look and judge the candidate for the Europeanelection and take into account its European party grouping policies more so than its nationalpolicies. From McElroy and Benoit 2010 they say that national parties in the EU are havingcommon experiences by being in a party group in the parliament. So the case with which Ihave decided to study is representative of a larger class in the European Union. 25      
  • 35. The reason for choosing voting records in Parliament is because it will add depth tothe research as a whole. Some European Groupings disaffection for their National partymembers might be explained through its decision to disagree or abstain on an issue crucial tothe Grouping. The analysis of these voting records expands further on the work done byMcElroy and Benoit 2010 where they use surveys to extract their information along withpolicy analysis.3.5 Data Analysis To measure compatibility, an MEP’s voting option on issues is analysed. Thepolitical line of the European group is taken from the position adopted by the plurality ofMEPs inside the group. As an example, take for instance if 40 MEPs from the S&D groupvoted ‘For’, 26 MEPs voted ‘Against’ and another 28 MEPs voted to ‘Abstain’, the politicalline of S&D taken would be ‘For’. Where there is an equal number, there is said to be nopolitical line. Furthermore an MEP is considered to be ‘loyal’ to his/her grouping in theParliament if that MEPs vote is the same as the political group. If the MEP votes the oppositeway to the group or abstains, the term ‘rebel’ is used to describe him/her. The data comesfrom the VoteWatch Europe website. It provides voting records, coalition formation trendsand attendance records to name but a few.3.6 Limitations of Research Initially a comparison of National party manifestos and European group manifestoswas done but this analysis would have been inconclusive on a stand-alone basis. The policyfocus of the national party manifestos was too different from the EP group manifestos toallow a structured comparison. The National manifestos contained specific proposals such asfor example, an increase in DIRT from 25% to 30%. No EP group manifesto mentions tax for 26      
  • 36. the simple reason that tax policies are a matter for each individual Member State to decide onand the EPP, for example has many varied political parties from different countries asmembers, which all have different tax policies. Basically, European Groups are always trying to attract new parties into the fold. Fora forthcoming European Election, if one party performed very well in the election and if theEPP included policies in their manifesto that were very much against the ideology of thatparty, they might get dismayed and switch to another group. The Group manifesto needs to bevague and non controversial in order to satisfy all its member parties in the run up to theEuropean election. In terms of research, it would have been very difficult to do a comparisonof compatibility on the grounds of policy with manifestos on a stand-alone basis. So ratherthan a direct comparison, the voting records of Irish MEPs is investigated in order to ascertaincompatibility indirectly by looking at the behaviour of the MEPs. To summarise, firstly analysis of patterns of defections across parties will beconducted for each of the eight policy areas. This will then be reduced to four policy areaswhere a more detailed examination using speeches from debates and written explanations ofvotes will be used. This will look to explore in greater depth the reasons behind a defectionand how it related to the overall vote and to look out for an all Irish MEP voting bloc on aparticular issue. A comparison of the voting records results will give good insights into bothperceived policy stand points and actual positions taken at implementation stages as part theEuropean process. 27      
  • 37. Chapter 4: Research Findings And Discussions 28      
  • 38. 4.0 Introduction The clustered bar chart in figure 1 (a) shows the percentage of which each Irishpolitical party has voted the opposite way to their groupings (disloyalty) on all policy areas.The clustered bar chart in figure 1 shows the percentage disloyalty among each Irish politicalparty in its respective grouping per policy area. The percentage disloyalty is the percentagetotal number of votes in which MEPs from each national party voted to rebel (vote in theopposite way to the group or abstain) against their group on an issue in a policy area. For therelevant policy areas: there was 235 roll-call votes on Civil Liberties, 275 on Economic andMonetary Affairs, 389 on Foreign and Security policy and 137 on Gender Equality. An MEPis considered to be ‘loyal’ to his/her grouping in the Parliament if that MEPs vote is the sameas the political group. If the MEP votes the opposite to the group or abstains, the term ‘rebel’is used to describe him/her. (VoteWatch Europe, 2012) Figure 1 (a) shows Fianna Fáil havingthe most disloyalty with ALDE at 10.29% on all roll-call votes in the EP. Fine Gael is at4.80% while Labour is on 1.62% on all policy areas.Figure 1 (a) All  Policy  Areas  %  Disloyalty   Labour   (S&D)   Fianna   Fáil   (ALDE)   Fine  Gael  (EPP)   Fianna  Fáil  (ALDE)   Labour  (S&D)   Fine   Gael   (EPP)   0.00%   5.00%   10.00%   15.00%   Percentage  disloyalty   29      
  • 39. Figure 1: Irish Political Party Disloyalty in the European Parliament     Economic  and  Monetary  Affairs   Employment  and  Social  Affairs   Culture  and  Education   Policy  area   Gender  Equality   Labour  (S&D)   Environment   Fianna  Fáil  (ALDE)   Civil  Liberties   Fine  Gael  (EPP)   Foreign  and  Security  Policy   Agriculture   0.00%   5.00%  10.00%  15.00%  20.00%  25.00%   Percentage  disloyalty   Figure 1 does show us a lot in terms of voting patterns across parties. The first figurethat becomes apparent is Fianna Fáil’s 22% disloyalty with its group on gender issues.(VoteWatch Europe, 2012) The Labour party are the most loyal of the parties but the issues ofEconomic and Monetary Affairs, Agriculture, Foreign and Security policy and Civil Libertiesseem to generate most rebellion. It would have been imagined that the theme of Economicand Monetary Affairs would have featured more tensions because of the current economiccrisis. The rationale behind this is that in a crisis the EU institutions would try to makechanges to try and solve the situation, which might not meet the approval of some MemberStates. What is surprising is Labour’s loyalty on Foreign and Security issues. When oneconsiders that Ireland is a neutral country, it is unexpected that an issue has not come up thatthe party believed would have adverse effects on a neutral country. The party is after all,voting amongst countries that have gone to war several times and have vast armies at theirdisposal. Fianna Fáil’s disloyalty on agriculture is startling and when they join with a groupthat raises questions over the Common Agricultural Policy, it is not out of the blue that onewould expect tensions. Figure 1 gives a good insight on a macro level of the policy areas 30      
  • 40. where the parties disagree with their groups most and hence decide to rebel against theirgroup colleagues. (VoteWatch Europe, 2012) By looking at speeches made by the Irish MEP’s, a good understanding of where theyare coming from in relation to the issue will be gained. This will further inform the discussionand also of interest will be the way in which they vote on certain issues. It might be bypolitical party, by country or ones own particular preference. It would be imagined thatMEP’s from the same political party would have regular meetings updating themselves on thelatest issues. Analysis will now continue and strive to achieve an in depth understanding ofwhy these MEP’s rebel against their groups on issues and see if these add to tensions in thegroup and thus may question the national party’s compatibility with that grouping in theParliament. The four policy areas were chosen because, in those areas significant differencesare seen between the parties in terms of loyalty and also they reflect the broader trends foundacross all policy areas. The four areas picked are: Foreign and Security policy, Civil Liberties,Gender Equality policy and Economic and Monetary Affairs. 31      
  • 41. Figure 2: Labour   Foreign  and  Security  Policy   (S&D)   Fianna   Fine  Gael  (EPP)   Fáil   (ALDE)   Fianna  Fáil  (ALDE)   Labour  (S&D)   Fine   Gael   (EPP)   0.00%   2.00%   4.00%   6.00%   8.00%   10.00%  12.00%   Percentage  disloyalty  4.1 Foreign and Security Policy Foreign and security policy is an important and sometimes controversial issue amongEU member-state countries. The opinion of member state countries varies. Some want asupranational foreign and security policy and on the other hand the others go against anysignificant limitation of national sovereignty. The reality is that there is still a sizeablevariation in what governments want when it comes to foreign policy integration. (Koenig-Archibugi, M., 2004) From figure two we can see the Fianna Fáil party with the highest disloyalty with11.79%, Fine Gael with 7.27% and finally and interestingly the Labour party with 99.70%loyalty with their Socialist and Democrats group on the issue of foreign and security policy.(VoteWatch Europe, 2012) The first policy issue of four to be focused on in this section is inrelation to the ‘EU-Russia summit 2011’. These four were picked because there was defectionbetween the parties and their groups over issues. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are the two partiesfocused on here because the Labour party hardly ever rebelled against their group on Foreignand Security policy. 32      
  • 42. On the issue of the EU-Russia summit which took place in June 2011, the goal beingfor both to take the opportunity of the upcoming summit to intensify negotiations on a newPartnership and Cooperation Agreement. It urges Russia to step up its contribution toaddressing climate change and also the rapid need to implement fundamental principles ofdemocracy, the rule of law, media freedom and human rights as a basis of cooperation.(European Parliament, 2011) Sean Kelly FG MEP and Jim Higgins FG MEP are the onlyrebels on this motion of all the Irish parties, they voted in favour while their group advocateda no vote. The no vote was in the majority and won by 67%. Sean Kelly MEP contributed tothe debate: “…. Its (Russia’s) behaviour towards some countries, particularlyneighbours such as Georgia, certainly cannot be admired.” “…Nevertheless, they do offer agreat opportunity for tackling global issues like climate change and also, of course, a greatopportunity to develop both our economies.” (Kelly, 2011) For the EPP, the main spokesperson outlined that they believed that the finaldeclaration of the summit which was going to take place the week after must be more thanjust fine words. At the time, they expected real agreements that will lead to results. They alsosaid that President Medvedev’s efforts of improving the rule of law were not enough. On the second issue, Sean Kelly MEP rebelled against the EPP by voting in favour ofa motion on violence against lesbian women and the rights of LGBT persons in Africa. In it,it strongly condemns all forms of violence and discrimination against lesbians in Africancountries. It also calls for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the 76 countries where itis illegal. There were some impassioned and harrowing speeches made on the issue and theMEP in question made a contribution during the plenary session. Kelly said he believed thatright across Africa there is a kind of cultural tradition based on non-tolerance of LGBTs inany form. He gives an example of where in South Africa they were the first country to bringin non-discrimination on sexual orientation but when it says one thing in law, it doesn’t 33      
  • 43. always work out that way in reality. This would be seen to be a liberal issue and he was oneof 11 in his group to defect. (European Parliament, 2011) Brian Crowley FF ALDE rebelled on one issue in this section and that was on the2010 progress report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He abstained and wasthe only Irish MEP that rebelled on the vote that called for more efforts in the field of genderequality and women’s rights and calls on the Council and Commission to start developing agenerally applicable arbitration mechanism aimed at solving bilateral issues betweenenlargement countries amongst other things. All other Irish MEPs were loyal to their groupsby voting in favour so this MEP would be seen to be conservative on gender issues.(European Parliament, 2011) Finally Pat ‘the cope’ Gallagher from Fianna Fáil and ALDE was on his own in anIrish context when he rebelled and was the only Irish MEP to vote in favour for a motion onthe situation in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain in the context of the situation in the Arab worldand North Africa. In particular to Syria, it called for Syrian authorities to allow foreign pressinto the country and to release all children who were arrested during the repression. It alsosupported the EU’s diplomatic efforts with its partners in the international community.However it was defeated overall, 79% to 12%. (European Parliament, 2011) The Labour party in its group, the S&D, were very loyal on nearly all issues. Threeindividual votes against the group are noted. On the subject of an enlargement report forTurkey, Emer Costello rebelled by voting no while her group and delegation were loyal andin favour. Nessa Childers abstained on the ‘impact of the financial crisis on the defence sector’when her group were in favour. Finally, Phil Prendergast voted no to ‘the EU as a global actor:its role in multilateral organisations’. When put in the context of two changes in personnel asEmer Costello replaced Proinsias De Rossa due to retirement and Phil Prendergast replacedAlan Kelly due to him being elected to the Dáil, one would expect more changes vote- wisebut this did not happen. 34      
  • 44. To sum up, Labour, who are now a government coalition member and are still foundto be so loyal at a European level is remarkable and is a very good indication that the Socialistand Democrats grouping is a very compatible group with the Labour party. For Fine Gael andthe EPP, a percentage of only 7% disloyalty is a good performance and where Fine Gael wereseen to be conservative was around the whole area of neutrality and not being seen to vote onissues that could compromise the country’s situation on an international stage. They wereseen to be liberal when it came to the motion on the EU-Russia summit when half of thedelegation voted against the group by voting in favour of urging Russia to act on humanrights. Fianna Fáil reached almost 12% disloyalty with ALDE. However a joint rebellion withFine Gael was seen on issues such as defence and human rights but they also votedindividually on a number of issues with no pattern or cohesion with other party or groupmembers visible. 35      
  • 45. Figure 3: Labour   Civil  Liberties   (S&D)   Fine  Gael   Fianna  Fáil   (ALDE)   Fine  Gael  (EPP)   Fianna  Fáil  (ALDE)   Labour  (S&D)   (EPP)   0.00%   5.00%   10.00%   15.00%   20.00%   Percentage  Disloyalty  4.2 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs High tech communication systems have been developed and when these arecombined with the new security environment, this generates international terrorism. Thesesystems have transformed many national civil liberties issues into significant internationaldebates. Logs of intimate personal character- credit card transactions and even retina scans,cross territorial borders. Through communications of national systems with clear ideas offreedom, transnational civil liberties were born. (Newman, 2008) It is important to give this policy area context, as it is a large area, which does haveimportant implications for member states. In terms of the political parties, Fianna Fáil is themost disloyal when it comes to Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs with a figure of justover 18%. Fine Gael has only 8.23% while the Labour party remains the most loyal of all theparties with just 0.43%. (VoteWatch Europe, 2012) 36      
  • 46. The first policy issue of three is in relation to public access to European Parliament,Council and Commission documents. The three policy issues were selected based on theNational parties voting the opposite way to their group and the large amount of debate aroundthese issues. Important elements like including documents relating to the EU budget, itsimplementation and beneficiaries of Union funds are to be made public and available tocitizens who can have access to them on websites also. Their reasoning for this was that it isan important aspect of transparency and that it is important that the budgetary procedures areclearly visible when implementing the EU budget. (European Parliament, 2011) The EPPinstructed its members to vote this down on the grounds that the report went too far beyondthe goal of extensive public access to EU documents. They said their agreement was madeimpossible because it believed that when it said documents, that was taken to mean any dataor content in any way connected to EU policy, decisions and measures. The EPP also go on tosay that they are very clear in their support to privacy and data protection while still takingthe issue of public access to documents seriously. The resolution was passed by 63% in the end with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil beingrebels on the issue. All Fine Gael MEP’s abstained in this vote and Fianna Fáil MEP’s votedagainst (excluding Brian Crowley who was absent). Labour MEP’s were loyal and voted infavour of the report. There were many written explanations on the part of the rebel MEP’s.This was probably the case because it would be considered a controversial topic with the Irishmedia if they decided to run a story on it. The two Fianna Fáil members from ALDE releaseda join written statement where they stated: “…In the interests of the privacy of our constituents…with matters and queries of apersonal or sensitive nature, it was necessary to vote against this report.” (Aylward andGallagher, 2011) This was a significant break with ranks with ALDE on this issue, and interestinglythe Fianna Fáil delegation were in agreement with the EPP, which would be seen by some as 37      
  • 47. a closer fit in terms of policy for the party. So to recap, ALDE voted in favour, EPP votedagainst and S&D were in favour. Both Mairead McGuinness MEP and Gay Mitchell MEPfrom Fine Gael and EPP gave individual explanations in writing. Mairead stated that: “Although this report prioritises transparency, it goes too far and actually poses apotential threat to the smooth running of the Parliament. The text confuses ‘access todocuments’ with ‘administrative procedures” (McGuinness, 2011)Part of Gay Mitchell’s contribution stated that: “The Irish EPP delegation fully supports transparency but public access todocuments must also meet legal requirements. In this regard, we do not feel the Cashmanreport is satisfactory.” (Mitchell, 2011) One would assume if a delegation found that a report is not satisfactory then they would voteagainst that report but the Fine Gael delegation stopped short of this and abstained insteadmaybe for reasons to avoid controversy but this is merely speculative. This issue shows that,Fianna Fáil insists on privacy much more than the other parties. This vote happened inDecember 2011, when Fine Gael were in Government and perhaps Fianna Fáil felt they hadnothing to lose by voting against, however all media eyes are on Fine Gael and if they wereseen to vote against public access to EU documents, the Irish media would pounce on thatopportunity. So the safest thing to do in the eyes of Fine Gael was to abstain. The next vote has been the closest yet involving Fianna Fáil, on the issue of freedomof information in Italy. This was a joint motion put forward for a resolution by S&D, ALDE,GUE/NGL and Greens groups. This was produced in 2009 and it recognises that concernswere being raised in Italy over the enduring conflict of interest talking in particular about thePrime Minister at the time and his media ownership and control politically over major privateand public media. This motion basically censures the pressure, which was directed towardsItalian and European newspapers by authorities from the Italian government. It specifically 38      
  • 48. backs calls by the OSCE representatives where they say to the Italian authorities to stop thispressure. (European Union, 2009) The vote was extremely close in the end with the motion being defeated by just 3votes. All Fine Gael MEPs were loyal and voted against while Labour were also loyal but infavour. However, all three Fianna Fáil MEP’s abstained and were disloyal so if they were tovote in favour of the motion it would have been a tied vote. Members of ALDE were angeredby FF’s stance and a row was said to have erupted involving the three Fianna Fáil MEPs atthe European Parliament in Strasbourg. Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher, who is the leader of the FFdelegation, said that they abstained because the party would not interfere in the internalaffairs of other member states. He was also asked if he came under pressure from the FFgovernment at the time but said that it was ultimately their own decision. (RTE News, 2009) A motion passed about the situation in Lithuania following the adoption of the law onprotection of minors was abstained upon by the Fine Gael MEPs making them rebels(excluding Sean Kelly who didn’t vote) and voted against by the Fianna Fáil MEPs makingthem rebels also (excluding Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher who didn’t vote). The motion invitesthe Lithuanian President and authorities to make sure that law’s nationally are matched withhuman rights and fundamental freedoms, which are preserved in international and Europeanlaw. (European Parliament, 2009) All Fine Gael MEPs gave an explanation for their abstentions. In it they said that:“The Fine Gael MEPs abstained on the votes on Lithuania as the legislative/legal processeshave not yet been completed there. When the Lithuanian legal process has been finalised as towhether it conflicts with EU Treaties can be examined.” (Fine Gael MEPs, 2009) This explanation is similar to others given and with a percentage of just 89% ofMEPs who voted along European political group lines on this vote so it did divide groupswith the majority formed in the end by S&D, ALDE, GUE/NGL and Greens/EFA. This is a 39      
  • 49. logical response because if the legislation on Human Rights has not gone through the housesof Parliament, then a vote about it in the Parliament at such an early stage is questionable. To sum up this section on Civil Liberties and referring back to Figure 3, Fine Gael inthe EPP rebelled against their group more than any others but are not highest on the graph,this is because most of their decisions under that category were to abstain and this does notcount against them as much as Fianna Fáil who voted against ALDE more than Fine Gaelvoted against the EPP. As far as compatibility is concerned in relation to Fine Gael, apartfrom when Ireland is not concerned/affected in the motion, they will abstain or when the EPPis one of the few groups to recommend MEPs in their group to vote against, Fine Gael MEPsdecide to abstain and seem to not want to cause too much upset at home and in Europe. Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil have no issue with going against an issue that they feelpassionately about. A case in point was over the freedom of information issue in Italy wherePat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher admitted that he should have flagged the issue sooner with hisgroup colleagues that his delegation had an issue with it and intended to vote against it. Theoverall level of compatibility on Civil Liberties with ALDE is not overly high and wasevident when they voted against giving public access to EP, Council and Commissiondocuments. The Labour MEP’s were again loyal with their S&D group on all issues exceptNessa Childers who rebelled on an international agreement with the US. On Civil Liberties,the Labour party and S&D are a good match. (European Parliament, 2012) 40      
  • 50. Figure 4: Labour   Gender  Equality  Policy   (S&D)   Fianna   Fine  Gael  (EPP)   Fáil   (ALDE)   Fianna  Fáil  (ALDE)   Labour  (S&D)   Fine   Gael   (EPP)   0.00%   5.00%   10.00%   15.00%   20.00%   25.00%   Percentage disloyalty 4.3 Gender Equality The drive for gender equality is still to the forefront in Europe with many issuesbeing debated in the Parliament. The energy with which the issue is debated has notdisappeared from the gender equality agenda. The successful effect of this agenda howeverremains questionable. There have been advancements in this area in individual MemberStates but this has not been constant and increasing. More consideration has been paid to thegender pay gap at a European level but in terms of policy, they still are fairly weak. The newemployment guidelines lost its equal opportunities pillar thus putting the momentum gatheredat risk. However the inclusion of promises for an integrated strategy of gender mainstreamingand equal opportunities are welcome. (Rubery et al, 2003) Figure 4 is quite startling in reference to Fianna Fáil’s 22% disloyalty. This is the areain which they are most disloyal to their group over all policy areas and produce the highestfigure of all 3 political parties in all policy areas. Fine Gael at 8.85% amounts to their mostdisloyal policy area also coming very close to Economic and Monetary affairs. The Labour 41      
  • 51. party at 0.76% disloyalty records one of their lowest figures and maintains its compatibilitywith S&D. The first issue under this policy area of three is that of Gender mainstreaming. Thesethree were picked to generate a focus on Fianna Fáil in particular to find out why theirdisloyalty on this policy area is so high. ‘Gender mainstreaming in the work of the European Parliament’ created dissentamong the Fine Gael MEPs. The report cites measures that would be proactive. They includeaccepting and applying a policy plan for gender mainstreaming in Parliament, genderbudgeting, which is making sure measures implemented affect men and women equally.Another important measure is to increase the amount of women in decision-making positions. All Irish MEPs, except the Fine Gael delegation, were in favour of this motion, whichpassed by 66%. The conflict in votes is apparent between the EPP and Fine Gael. It was theEPP’s recommendation for the political parties to endorse a No vote. Some of the EPP groupmembers decisions centred around extremists in the Committee on Women’s Rights andGender Equality, in the past, taking advantage of a report in order to include in it demandsthat have nothing to do with the subject and instead concentrated on transgendered people.Others point to paragraph 12, which in their eyes pays a disproportionate amount of attentionto transgender people in European policies. Their point was that transgender issues are takenout of their political and institutional context. (European Parliament, 2011) Jim Higgins MEP was one of those who rebelled against the EPP and voted in favour: “The Parliament needs to lead by example and must truly reflect the needs,aspirations and experiences of all society. Gender mainstreaming is firmly established inArticle 8 of the Lisbon Treaty and this report is an essential first step towards themainstreaming of the institutions.” (Higgins, 2011) 42      
  • 52. A very low figure of 78% of MEPs actually voted along European political grouplines and the main reason for this is probably the stance taken by the EPP. The Fine Gaeldelegation was not alone in their decision to oppose their group. They were joined by 87 otherEPP rebels, which equalled a very poor group cohesion rate of 36.65% in contrast to S&Dwho had cohesion of 99% and ALDE who had 97.7% who backed the proposal. (VoteWatchEurope, 2011) We can interpret this as Fine Gael actually being more progressive than themajority of the EPP members. It also shows that the party is not afraid to speak out and goagainst its group on a progressive issue like Gender mainstreaming. The subject of defective silicone gel breast implants made by a French company PIPresulted in a close vote of 286 (50%) for and 279 (49%) against with 6 (1%) abstentions.(VoteWatch Europe, 2012) The motion called on the Commission to develop an appropriatelegal framework to guarantee the safety of breast implants and of medical technology ingeneral and also the implementation of immediate and specific measures on the basis of thecurrent legislation on medical devices. (European Parliament, 2012) The Fianna Fáil delegation did not agree with ALDE who were in favour of this andall (except Brian Crowley MEP who was absent) voted against the motion. Fine Gael wereloyal to their group and voted against it while Labour’s position was that they were loyal andin favour with just Nessa Childers rebelling by abstaining. So overall very mixed opinions onthis, a contentious issue. Labour MEP, Emer Costello and Fine Gael MEP, MaireadMcGuinness, both had opposing opinions and both gave explanations on their votingdecisions. “Today’s vote is important in ensuring that more stringent safety checks andincreased product traceability is introduced in regard to breast implants…” “…The passingof today’s resolution should help to institute industrial change.” (Costello, 2012) On the other side, MEP McGuinness was loyal to her group and voted against: 43      
  • 53. “I did not support the inclusion of Paragraph 7 on the introduction of a system ofpre-market authorisation. Europe already has in place an effective de-facto premarketauthorisation system and further regulation could stifle innovation.” (McGuinness, 2012)There really were two sides taken on this by Labour and Fine Gael. Fine Gael see it as furtherregulation and this could have a negative impact in the longer term while Labour want morechecks and are enthusiastic for change to the system. A motion for resolution on the Beijing plus 15- UN Platform for Action for GenderEquality was discussed and urges, amongst other things, the Commission and the MemberStates to adopt and implement specific gender equality policies. It also requests that in therevision of the Lisbon Strategy in 2010 a strong gender equality priority, which would beaccompanied by new targets, be set out. (European Parliament, 2010) The EPP’s stance wasin favour, ALDE were also in favour and so was the S&D. The only rebels were the Fine Gaeldelegation who abstained as a group. It was eventually carried by 82%. But in the debate theFine Gael MEP, Mairead McGuinness made a few points based on their decision. “…A lot of women are contributing to this debate, but I think we have to be honestabout how many of us have dependent children. Could we be here if we had? Yes but onlybecause we earn a great deal more than other people who cannot follow suit.” (McGuinness,2010) For Fine Gael MEPs to go against their group on this issue would make them moreconservative taking into account the rest of the EPP’s support for this. According toMcGuinness, there is too much focus on women when it comes to these issues, men’s reasonsfor not taking up positions needs to be investigated also. What was clear to see throughout analysis on this policy area was the disparity withFianna Fáil and their group, ALDE. Fianna Fáil displays the most conservative positions ongender equality. The Fine Gael delegation seem to be cautious as well but operate moreefficiently in the sense that if they are going to disagree with an issue they seem to talk and 44      
  • 54. decide a common position for the delegation and all vote for, all against or abstain. It isapparent that there is good coordination and cooperation in that group. Fianna Fáil rebelledand joined with Fine Gael in voting against the motion on defective breast implants. Aninteresting finding was that on 2 out of the 3 motions featured, Fianna Fáil voted along thesame lines as the European People’s Party. The Labour party were very loyal to the S&Dgroup and are undoubtedly the most progressive of the three parties on Gender issues. NessaChilders MEP went against them on the motion on defective breast implants while hercolleagues were loyal on all issues. (VoteWatch Europe, 2012)Figure 5: Economic  and  Monetary  Affairs   Labour   (S&D)   Fianna   Fine  Gael  (EPP)   Fáil   (ALDE)   Fianna  Fáil  (ALDE)   Labour  (S&D)   Fine   Gael   (EPP)   0.00%   5.00%   10.00%   15.00%   Percentage  disloyalty  4.4 Economic and Monetary Affairs With the Euro crisis and recessions seen across European Member States, the EU’swork on economic and monetary affairs has increased in importance. The Maastricht Treaty,for example had an economic and monetary constitution rooted in it. It included the maingoals and basic values for good economic governance. A key philosophy was the need tosecure sound public finances for sustainable growth. Nothing can be more valid for today aswe look to the future. With further integration within the Union from some Member Statesexpected, the idea of economic sovereignty has been raised and many MEPs and governments 45      
  • 55. get uncomfortable around some areas of economic policy being pursued by the EU. Commontax rates and more control of how governments budget their finances are issues of concernand this is reflected in the debates in the Parliament. (Papademos, 2006) Some initial reactions to figure 5 show that 8.79% disloyalty on this issue is thesecond highest defection rate for Fine Gael over the 8 policy areas. We expect to see manyreasoned explanations from the MEPs on the issues that concern both them and their party. Italso shows that the party holds monetary affairs in high standing if it is prepared, as aperceived pro-European party, to object to certain elements. Some of these further increasethe integration economically of the Eurozone and Union as a whole. Fianna Fáil is at 10.20%disloyalty with ALDE and is well down on being its highest rate. This figure is less surprisingcompared to Fine Gael because when we put it in context and compare it to the 22% onGender Equality, it seems it is at odds with ALDE more so on social issues than it does oneconomic and monetary affairs issues. The Labour party’s second highest figure of disloyalty is seen in this policy area.When Labour has been in government, they have dealt with poor economic and fiscalsituations such as those in ’82 to ’87 and from 2011 onwards. In the eighties they bore muchof the blame for the requirement of strict curtailing of government spending and paid theprice at the ballot box. Tax is a salient issue among Member States, none more so than Ireland. The first ofthree motions that will be analysed in detail is entitled ‘Call for concrete ways to combat taxfraud and tax evasion’. These three were chosen because in some instances all MEPs in theNational party as a group bloc voted against their group. All are highly emotive and when itcomes to talking about tax, the Irish MEPs get very protective and a large debate develops.This calls on Member States to ensure smooth cooperation and coordination of their taxsystems in the hope that tax avoidance and fraud and unintended non-taxation can be avoided.It also calls on them to have another look at bilateral agreements between Member States but 46      
  • 56. also third countries in the same areas. All Fine Gael MEPs rebelled against the EPP on thisissue by voting no. Seán Kelly MEP gave an explanation as to the reasons why. “…We consider that his (Jean-Paul Gauzes) proposals are excessive, inparticular introducing proposals in which we had no part, such as a common tax or ‘CCCTB’,tax competition and agreements among various countries. We cannot accept these proposalsand we therefore voted against it. Let us continue to battle dishonesty and evasion.” (Kelly,2012) The Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) is of concern to Irelandbecause it is seen as tax harmonisation by the ‘back door’ and that this would have an adverseimpact on our low corporation tax rate of 12.5% which is seen as key to the entry ofmultinationals into Ireland. Fianna Fáil’s position was in favour because they supported a lotof the positive recommendations in the report. However in his explanation of the vote, Pat‘The Cope’ Gallagher noted with concern, the inclusion of a reference to the role of theCCCTB in Paragraph 4 but in the end supported it because of its overall positiverecommendations. Meanwhile, the Labour Party were loyal to S&D by voting in favour. Themotion passed in the end by 71%. (VoteWatch Europe, 2012) Fine Gael are protectionist intheir opposition to changes to the tax system and in particular, Ireland’s corporate tax rate.However, in this motion, it deals very little with corporate tax and yet the MEPs raise theissue. Fine Gael are conservative on tax issues and have a ‘laissez faire’ attitude when itcomes to such issues. The CCCTB was the subject of the second policy issue where tensions were apparent.Both the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil delegations voted against their groups on this issue byvoting no. Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher’s vote is recorded as a yes vote but this was due to hisvoting machine not working. There were several explanations given by the Irish MEPs onthis controversial issue and amongst the no votes by the two aforementioned parties, it will be 47      
  • 57. interesting to see why the Labour MEPs only abstained on this issue. Firstly, Gay Mitchellgives an explanation on behalf of himself, Mr. Higgins and Miss McGuinness: “While Ireland has constructively engaged in the CCCTB process, the Treatyrequires unanimity in matters of taxation policy, and the principle of subsidiarity allowsMember States to keep taxation under national legislation. My main concern is that this istransgressing on national competence.” (Mitchell, 2012) There is no doubt that this issue is of great concern in Ireland. The plan of theintroduction of a compulsory pan-EU business tax system was greeted with concern. Themain thrust of this centres around the whole idea of allowing companies to submit onecentralised tax return for all EU countries where they are operating. The profits from thiscompany, which would be taxed, would be split between the Member States where theyconduct their business. It would be distributed on the basis of size of each business in eachindividual country and retention of setting tax rates would be safeguarded. The Taoiseach isquoted as saying that it would make it more difficult for multinationals to be in receipt ofIreland’s low corporate tax rate of 12.5%. (Taylor, 2012) Labour’s Emer Costello gave her response for abstaining on the vote: “I do not except the clauses making the CCCTB compulsory and on moving towardsthe harmonisation of rates. Under the EU treaties, taxation is a matter of nationalcompetence where the principle of unanimity applies.” (Costello, 2012) This is very similarto the Fine Gael position and it must also be noted that Fine Gael and Labour must be seen tobe on similar policy lines now that they are in coalition together nationally. One wouldbelieve there is now less freedom on votes in the Parliament because their party is no longerin opposition in the national parliament. Finally it is worth giving Fianna Fáil’s reaction alsobecause it is not often that an Irish voting block is seen on an issue and shows the importanceCCCTB is given by the Irish MEPs but also at a national level. 48      
  • 58. “The Franco-German CCCTB initiative should not be used to undermine MemberStates’ individual competence, under the guise of efforts to tackle the economic crisis.”(Aylward, 2012) That really does sum up the Irish MEPs position on this issue and also thegovernments position for that matter. There is real opposition to the furthering of this policyand this debate will continue into the future where undoubtedly concerns will be raised onceagain. The resolution was adopted with 452 votes in favour, 172 against and 36 abstentions.(VoteWatch Europe, 2012) The third and final motion that will be analysed under economic and monetaryaffairs deals with the system of taxation that applies to parent companies and subsidiaries ofdifferent Member States. Due to tax competition among Member States, we have seenaverage corporate tax rates decrease from 44% in 1980 to 23.2% in 2010. The rapporteurbelieves that a common European approach is needed to stop and overturn the race to thebottom of corporate tax rates. (European Parliament, 2011) In this instance the Fine Gaeldelegation joined with the Fianna Fáil delegation in rebelling against their groups andopposing this resolution while Labour MEPs were loyal and voted in favour. Liam AylwardMEP and Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher explained: “We voted against this report due to several references to minimum rates of taxation.The setting of tax rates- including corporate tax-is the responsibility of each Member State.This right is enshrined in the protocols attached to the Treaty of Lisbon.” (Aylward andGallagher, 2011) It was in fact a similar story for Mairead McGuinness MEP and the Fine Gaeldelegation: “I do not support the amendments to the recast in this text that refer to minimumrates of taxation. Taxation is, and should remain, a Member State competence. For thisreason, I voted against this report.” (McGuinness, 2011) 49      
  • 59. In one sense two parties coming together to vote against a report for common issuesis good to see in terms of solidarity and cooperation. But when the bigger picture is analysedand the final voting figures overall are seen, one would wonder do our Irish MEPs actuallymatter because there are only 12 of them versus 99 German MEPs. This resolution waspassed by 88% with the majority of the Irish MEPs in the 11% that voted against while just2% abstained. (VoteWatch Europe, 2011) It is a cause of concern and frustration for thedelegations when they are so set against ideas that the rest of Europe wants to plough aheadwith. But the argument that features regularly in their contributions is based around theargument that tax is a competence for Member States. To sum up this section on economic and monetary affairs, it did seem to be the mostcontentious policy area of the four analysed. The level of importance the MEPs gave to ourcorporate tax rate was by no means understated. They regarded the potential increase incorporate tax rate with the scaling back or pulling out by the multinationals in Ireland and thenet job losses associated with that. Tensions did occur with the parties groups and it did comeacross in the debates that it was of serious concern to Fine Gael and hence their largestpercentage disloyalty in this section. That dissatisfaction stems from government also andonce MEPs national parties are in government, they are expected to toe the party line whetherin Dáil Éireann or the European Parliament in Brussels or Strasburg. 50      
  • 60. Chapter 5: Conclusion                                         51      
  • 61. 5.0 Restatement of objective The objective of this research was to establish if there was suitability betweenthe Irish political parties and their European groupings and on what policy issues werethe parties most disloyal. This was done by measuring the compatibility of three Irishpolitical parties against their respective European Parliament groups. Furthermore,this was done indirectly by examining the behaviour of MEPs in roll-call votes andtheir reasons and reactions to motions on policy through debates and explanations ofvotes.5.1 Summary of Findings The findings showed that of the three political parties, Fianna Fáil were themost incompatible with their group ALDE. This was especially the case on socialissues such as gender equality and civil liberties. Meanwhile, Fine Gael also did havedifferences of opinions on various issues but overall, when Fine Gael would have adifferent view compared to the EPP, they would tend to abstain on an issue more sothan vote against. Although under the economic and monetary affairs policy umbrella,a strong defence on the issue of tax was observed and this led to that policy areaproducing the second most disloyalty as a percentage for Fine Gael. Turning to theLabour party and they were by far the most loyal to their group, S&D and across allpolicy areas their disloyalty amounted to 1.62%. This was an extraordinary result andconsidering the party are in government in Ireland since 2011, it is remarkable thatmore red line issues have not come up, that, if voted on could have negativeconsequences for the coalition. 52      
  • 62. Moving through each policy area, clear patterns emerge. For Fine Gael, thetheme of neutrality was key and from analysis of all issues under foreign and securitypolicy, it was clear that Ireland’s neutrality was a major factor in this policy area.When issues of defence and military would arise, the Fine Gael delegation would tendto abstain due to neutrality and would be cautious about voting on the aforementionedmatters for fear of compromising the country. It seems clear from the evidence thatFine Gael are conservative when it comes to this policy area because it wants tosupport its traditional stand point. The Fianna Fáil delegation showed a lack of cohesion on foreign affairs andengaged in a lot of individual votes where there was a decreased level of cooperationon voting strategy. With Brian Crowley MEP abstaining on gender equality andwomen’s rights and Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher MEP voting for intervention in Syria, itshows that on foreign and security policy, the party are far from cohesive. Labourwere loyal on 99.7% of issues in this area so needless to say that compatibilitybetween S&D and Labour was at one of its highest here. The civil liberties policy area was quite a contentious policy area for FiannaFáil and this was illustrated well in the issue on ‘freedom of information in Italy’. Thevote came down to a tie with the FF delegation abstaining, however they gave noprior warning that this was their position and caused damage not only to thedelegation but also to the Taoiseach at the time, Brian Cowen. According to theacademic experts with, in their first year of term report, Fianna Fáil didnot seem to toe the political line of the ALDE group when it comes to budget andcivil liberties issues. (VoteWatch Europe, 2010) On balance the evidence suggeststhat the delegation are far from liberal on the policy area of civil liberties compared tothe rest of ALDE. 53      
  • 63. Civil liberties is the third highest disloyalty policy area for Fine Gael at 8.23%.The EPP has 4.83% disloyalty in terms of trans-national political groups in the EP.(VoteWatch Europe , 2012) Fine Gael are very much open to civil liberty issues butare still short of being progressive in the Parliament probably due to the fact that theEPP are cautious on the issue also. Tensions are present between the party and thegroup and accounts for Fine Gael’s third highest disloyalty figure from all policyareas. The Labour MEP’s were again loyal with their S&D group on all issues exceptwhen Nessa Childers who rebelled on an international agreement with the US. OnCivil Liberties, the Labour party and S&D are a good match. Gender Equality was found to be the area of most incompatibility betweenFianna Fáil and ALDE and the second most loyal area for the Labour party. What theresearch suggests is that on this policy area, Fianna Fáil seem to be closer to the EPPon gender equality issues that ALDE. The FF delegation clearly does not share similarviews with ALDE on a number of issues contained in the area. For example rebellingon issues surrounding regulation on companies producing defective breast implants,situation of single mothers and equality between men and women in the EU. The EPPhave a poor trans-national disloyalty rate among its delegations when it comes togender equality amounting to 25.7%. Few tensions were apparent between Fine Gael and the EPP. It seems clearfrom the evidence that Fine Gael seems to be generally more liberal on Gender issuesthan the rest of the EPP. One MEP from the Labour party rebelled on one issue andabstained on the motion calling for more regulation for companies making breastimplants. So compatibility was high in this policy area between Labour and the S&D.They are very much in line with S&D in being progressive on gender issues. OnGender equality a clear centre-left coalition continues to dominate during this EP term. 54      
  • 64. ALDE has won 97% of votes, while the groups to its left (S&D, Green/EFA,GUE/NGL) have much the same record of vote’s won, which is 86%. The EPP, ECRand EFD groups are in the minority on this policy area. (VoteWatch Europe, 2010) The last policy area dealt with was economic and monetary affairs. With somany countries in the EU in financial difficulty, it is now more so than ever that theleaders and the EU institutions need to show leadership and be decisive. TheEuropean Parliament has a part to play in all of this and there was no surprise whenthe policy area turned out to be quite contentious. Three issues around tax wereanalysed; Combatting tax fraud, the CCCTB and the system of tax for parentcompanies. For Fine Gael, it is the area, which causes most disloyalty with its group,the EPP. Fianna Fáil has the highest disloyalty rate of the three on this policy areaalso and for Labour a larger than usual amount of tension occurs between them andthe S&D. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil show more of a ‘country first’ orientated mentalitywhen it came to tax issues. When Brussels puts forward motions on tax, an uneasyfeeling is always present in the Irish camp because it could be tax harmonisation bythe back door. They view tax harmonisation as a killer blow to a peripheral countrylike Ireland in terms of MNC’s coming into the country and our export industry. FineGael would be seen broadly as pro-European and has a solid position within the groupwith Enda Kenny being one of the Vice Presidents of the group. In this section, Labour were seen not to have engaged in much debate on theissues aforementioned as much as the two other parties. Emer Costello MEP madetheir position clear in a contribution when she said that the party did not regard thevarious motions on tax a move towards tax harmonisation. They regard the motions 55      
  • 65. being put forward in the Parliament to be less threatening to the country than the othertwo parties regard them. Labour have displayed a high percentage of loyalty to theirgroup but since becoming coalition members in Dáil Éireann, one would assume thatvoting patterns would begin to match but this does not seem to be the case concerningthis policy area.5.2 Relevance of Findings These findings are very relevant in today’s context. The Irish case in particularis not like other EU member states. The two main political parties down through Irishhistory have been Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in opposition due to the civil war. For somuch support electorally to go to two parties, which are both centre right parties ishighly unusual in a European context. It seems clear from the evidence that FiannaFáil are not compatible with their group, ALDE especially on social issues. Thisshould be a cause for concern for supports of the party and the party nationally. If the views of MEPs in a group are not shared somewhat on issues, one wouldhave to question the affiliation of that party in the group. In the run up to theEuropean election in 2014, more emphasis should be placed on Fianna Fáil’s recordin the Parliament rather than nationally when electing MEPs. It doesn’t help of coursewhen a local election is usually held on the same day. A debate should be held onEuropean issues and what the parties in their groups stand for. This would placeemphasis on the European groups and thus analysis of their loyalty records wouldbecome more relevant. This research is the beginning of the debate. Many of Fianna Fáil’s ideologicalviews have not gone in unison with ALDE. ALDE’s perceived hostility to the CAPand positions taken on abortion and stem cell research would obviously contrast to 56      
  • 66. that of Fianna Fáil. A European election should be on European issues and researchsuch as this should start to bring the emphasis back onto what the Parliament does, itsrelevance and the role played by MEPs in their party delegations and mostimportantly, their European groupings.5.3 Main issues identified in the research The main issues identified in the research include Fianna Fáil’s cleardefections on equality issues and also on civil liberties including access to EUdocuments and freedom of information in Italy. Economic and monetary affairs saw alarge amount of debate especially on tax issues. This led to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáilproducing large disloyalty figures. Ireland’s neutrality was an issue that was raisedand was regarded as highly relevant when discussing foreign and security policy inthe EU.5.4 Recommendations It is clear that Fianna Fáil is experiencing markedly more tensions in its groupcompared to Fine Gael or Labour. The party’s compatibility with the group on policyanalysed through voting records is remarkably low in an overall sense. The EuropeanPeople’s party is a group that would ideologically fit the centre right party and therecommendation is that they would affiliate with that group. Bearing in mind thattheir national political rivals are members of the EPP, this causes a problem forFianna Fáil. However policy compatibility and ideological similarity should comebefore civil war politics and the media’s future perceived view of opposition to oneanother in the Dáil and unity with one another in Brussels. 57      
  • 67. Although some tensions are apparent between Fine Gael and the EPP, theparty should stay within the group. Fine Gael is of course a founding member of theEuropean People’s party and with Enda Kenny as a Vice President; the party is firmlya loyal and proactive member. The Labour party throughout this research have shownthat its loyalty with the Socialists and Democrats is remarkably good and reiteratesthe case that there is no necessity for a change of group affiliation.     58      
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  • 76.    AppendixTable 1.0: Disloyalty by percentage by policy area in figures Disloyalty   Fine  Gael   Fianna  Fáil   Labour   (EPP)   (ALDE)   (S&D)     Agriculture   1.53%   16.92%   7.94%   Foreign  and  Security  Policy   7.27%   11.78%   0.30%   Civil  Liberties   8.23%   18.34%   0.43%   Environment   4.02%   10.70%   0.85%   Gender  Equality   8.85%   22.22%   0.76%   Culture  and  Education   0%   3.03%   0%   Employment  and  Social  Affairs   4.20%   1.71%   0.88%   Economic  and  Monetary  Affairs   8.79%   10.20%   2.58%  Table 1.1: Loyalty by percentage by policy area in figures Column1   EPP   ALDE   S&D   FG   FF   LAB     Agriculture   98.47%   83.08%   92.06%   Foreign  and  Security  Policy   92.73%   88.22%   99.70%   Civil  Liberties   91.77%   81.66%   99.57%   Environment   95.98%   89.30%   99.15%   Gender  Equality   95.15%   77.78%   99.78%   Culture  and  Education   100%   96.97%   100%   Employment  and  Social  Affairs   95.80%   98.29%   99.12%   Economic  and  Monetary  Affairs   91.21%   89.80%   97.42%   67