Politics and religion beyond state borders: the activity of Spanish MEPs on religious issues

Gloria García-Romeral, Mar Griera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

© 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis. This study examines the interplay between the political and religious factors in the activity of Spanish members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in their work within the European Parliament (EP). First, we explore the impact of Spanish MEPs’ religious preferences and ideological beliefs regarding religious affairs on their parliamentary activity. Second, we analyse the parliamentary activity of Spanish MEPs (parliamentary questions and motions for resolution) related to religious affairs. We argue that the rapid and profound process of secularisation in the Spanish population is also observable in the stances of MEPs towards religious affairs. Most of them perceive religious issues as belonging to only the private sphere, and do not consider that their personal religious affiliation and preferences should play any role in their political activity in the EP. The analysis also shows that religion is mainly addressed in an indirect way in the EP and is not a central concern on the agenda. We conclude that despite the fact that religion plays a minor role, the analysis of the activity of Spanish MEPs permits us to detect an affinity between ideological and religious positions. Therefore we argue that the religious cleavage that has characterised the history of Spain, despite having lost its historical strength, is still detectable in the activity of MEPs: right-wing parties are defenders of the values and interests of the Catholic Church within the EP, while left-wing parties have a more secularist agenda and use the EP as an arena to denounce the privileges and attitudes of the Catholic Church in Spain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-282
JournalReligion, State and Society
Volume42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Catholicism
  • European Parliament
  • European Union
  • politics and religion
  • secularisation
  • Spain
  • Spanish MEPs

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