In defence of the 'democratic deficit': Reassessing legitimacy in the European Union

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Abstract

Concern about the EU's 'democratic deficit' is misplaced. Judged against existing advanced industrial democracies, rather than an ideal plebiscitary or parliamentary democracy, the EU is legitimate. Its institutions are tightly constrained by constitutional checks and balances: narrow mandates, fiscal limits, super-majoritarian and concurrent voting requirements and separation of powers. The EU's appearance of exceptional insulation reflects the subset of functions it performs - central banking, constitutional adjudication, civil prosecution, economic diplomacy and technical administration. These are matters of low electoral salience commonly delegated in national systems, for normatively justifiable reasons. On balance, the EU redresses rather than creates biases in political representation, deliberation and output.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-624
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations

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