Parliamentary leaders as seen by MPs

by OK

Despite their pivotal position in parliament the chairpersons of parliamentary party groups (PPG) in the German Bundestag are substantively understudied actors. In particular, there is no scholarly work on the leaders’ power to steer the PPG. This study investigates the power relations within the Bundestag by drawing on MPs’ own assessments of the chairmanship’s strength. Capturing the followers’ views is highly valuable not only since MPs should be able to provide better insights than outside observers. The influence socially ascribed to leaders can also be regarded as source of power sui generis if reputation of power leads to anticipatory adaptations. The paper demonstrates that almost all parliamentarians (irrespective of criteria like seniority or leadership affiliation) attribute considerable power to the chairpersons’ position role. Moreover, this external perception corresponds with the office holders’ self-perception. However, given the PPG leaders’ importance for the functioning of parliamentary democracy there is much need for more detailed investigations on their steering capacities and leadership behaviour.

The article is published in: ZParl, Vol. 49 (2018), Issue 4, pp. 767 – 777.

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