RECON Online Working Paper 2011/03

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The Politics of Justification?

Applying the 'Discourse Quality Index' to the Study of the European Parliament 

Christopher Lord (ARENA, University of Oslo) and Dionysia Tamvaki (University of Reading)



In this paper, we apply a revised version of the discourse quality index (DQI) developed by Steenbergen et al. on European Parliament debates in an attempt to evaluate the democratic quality of representation at the EU level. This updated measurement instrument, after the inclusion of new indicators, helps us identify not just the principles of EU deliberation but most importantly the favourable contextual conditions of supranational deliberation. We illustrate the new DQI coding for selected debates over the last EU parliamentary term and across six debate topics following the former three pillar structure of the Union. We discuss how these data can be employed to assess the overall quality of deliberation in the European Parliament. At the same time we demonstrate that institutional issues matter for the quality of EP discourse much like MEPs personal characteristics. Issue attributes on the other hand, influence supranational deliberation but not in the expected direction.




Deliberative Democracy Democracy European Parliament MEPs Political Science


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