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Voting behaviour of member of European Parliament regarding the European Union international trade agreements

Ching-Yi Chen

On 4th July 2012, the European Parliament (EP) first exercised its new power to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by an overwhelming majority. Empirical research has yet fully to explain what determine the voting behaviour of member of the European Parliament(MEPs) on the ACTA. This paper serves to bridge the gap in our understanding by analysing the roll-call votes related to the ACTA in the EP. It aims to investigate whether MEPs' ideological preferences, national party preferences, national interests, or European political groups can ultimately determine MEPs voting decisions. Using logistic regression, it finds MEPs'ideological preferences and political parties, rather than the national economic factors, are better explanations for the MEPs' voting behaviour on the ACTA. Most importantly, the statistical results also points out that MEPs' decisions on the ACTA is primarily driven by the level of issue salience on the Internet (as per Google searches) in each member state. In other words, MEPs voting behaviour on the ACTA cannot simply be explained by the traditional theory of EU legislative politics. In this regard, the ACTA is a very unique case that needs to be investigated.

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