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26 3. Are There MPs Who Aspire to High Positions? chapter three We will now turn to the question of whether there are MPs in the parliament who are working long-term to achieve a successful political career. The process here is intended as an initial validation of the Parliamentary Study data presented in Chapter 1. THE EMPIRICAL INDICATOR The survey question upon which the book is based was taken from the 1996 Parliamentary Study, in which MPs were queried about their interest in various political positions. The question read, “Where would you like to see yourself in ten years? (You may tick more than one box).” The MPs could select from eleven options: s Member of the parliament s Party group leader in the parliament s Chair of a parliamentary committee s Chair of a nationwide organization/association s Cabinet minister in the Swedish government s Member of the European Parliament s Political group leader in the European Parliament s Chair of a European Parliament committee s Chair of a European organization/association s EU commissioner s Withdrawn from public life This survey question will serve as the empirical indicator of the MPs’ career ambitions. The question must be validated in order to confirm that the question has truly identified MPs who are pursuing a long-term political career. The validation applies if the survey material can be used to reflect the MPs’ personal ambitions as a genuine phenomenon. The question is whether we are using the survey question to study the MPs’ career ambitions—or something else altogether. It is by no means established that there are MPs who are working deliberately are there mps who aspire to high positions? 27 and over the long term in an attempt to attain the highest positions. An alternative scenario is that the MPs are simply carrying on and not devoting any significant energy to planning their own careers. When we listen to high-ranking Swedish politicians, they seem to describe their political careers precisely thus, which may indicate that there are no ambitious politicians in the Swedish parliament. It might also be so that MPs conceal their aspirations due to the negative connotations of ambition. The political memoir literature shows that MPs striving to achieve a successful career in politics have a price to pay. We have looked at accounts that establish rather clearly that career ambition is hardly saluted in the Swedish context . In a party-centric system, personal political ambition may indeed be at work, but “under the radar.” We will bring these considerations along as we set about answering the main question of this chapter: Are there politicians in the Swedish parliament who state that they want prominent positions in answer to a direct question from researchers in a survey? THE THEORETICAL DEFINITION AND THE SURVEY QUESTION The criteria that constitute the theoretical definition of political ambition were discussed in Chapter 2. The criteria are that the ambitious MP must have a longterm approach and must want to move to an institution with higher status. The object of ambition must be difficult to obtain, and the MP must be committed and acting to attain the object. Each of the criteria must now be related to how the survey question is designed. The review applies to all criteria except action. Action has its own chapter (Chapter 5) and does not have the same initial signi ficance. To make the study of MPs’ behavior interesting, we must first confirm the existence of MPs who report that they want more prominent positions. Long-Term Approach One of the criteria that apply to career ambition is that the MP is working longterm toward attaining the object. This does not, so to speak, involve a game of chance; the MP must be working toward something over time. When a person is asked whether he or she wants to be prime minister, a cabinet minister, party leader, and so on and answers “yes,” this is not, according to the arguments of the classical philosophers, an absolute indication of ambition. This kind of question instead has to do with whether the person is willing to accept an office or a position in general. Those who are ambitious must be willing not only to subject themselves to the hard work that the position demands, but also struggle in the 28 chapter three hopes of one day being able to shoulder the role of minister, party leader, and...


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