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Their research can approach legitimacy from two perspectives: When taking a normative approach, political scientists develop and justify their own evaluation of the rightfulness of political arrangements.

People and Parliament in the European Union : participation, democracy, and legitimacy

When taking an empirical approach, they study how other people—such as political elites or citizens—evaluate the rightfulness of political rule. Both approaches have been used in research on the European Union. These depend largely on how the EU polity is conceptualized: as a technocratic regulatory agency, an intergovernmental organization, a federation, a demoi-cracy, or a system of multilevel governance. Since the EU is hybrid polity that possesses elements of each of these models, and is therefore difficult to classify, no consensus has emerged in this debate. A diverse set of research methods—including public opinion surveys, content analysis of different kinds of texts, and qualitative interviews with citizens—have been applied to shed light on this question.

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Parliamentary Groups: The Greens-European Free Alliance

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  1. Democratic legitimacy of the European Union.
  2. Quantity Implicatures?
  3. Close the Gap: Tackling Europe’s Democratic Deficit – Electoral Reform Society;

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Democracy, Quo Vadis

Publications Pages Publications Pages. Furthermore, European actors also promoted the direct participation of citizens. However, the ECI procedure is very demanding, which explains why very few initiatives have been launched since the introduction of the mechanism in We have seen so far that the European Union does have unrepresentative institutions, and that it is not supported by the majority of citizens in elections. Nonetheless, I believe that this criticism might be exaggerated. The most simple way to demonstrate that is to compare the European Union to national democracies.

How to reduce the EU's democratic deficit

More broadly, there are many other similarities between the institutions of the European Union and national democracies. I am only going to mention a few examples. First, like national democracies, the European Union is politically led by elected representatives. The way Commissioners are nominated is a good illustration of that since they are chosen by both the European Council and approved by the Parliament. Second, like national democracies, the European Union has a system of checks and balances between institutions such as the Parliament, the Commission, the Council or the European Court of Justice.

Last but not least, the European Union is ruled by law as all its policies are passed in accordance with treaties and, crucially, a general base of democratic values adopted with the Nice treaty in These values include freedom of speech, popular sovereignty and general interest, or in other words, values which characterise every national democracy.

To put it briefly, the European Union mainly consists of institutions similar to the national ones. In both, we have democratic elements such as accountability or a system of checks and balances, and both share the same values. With that being said, authors like Andrew Moravcsik and Antoine Vauchez insist on not comparing the European democracy to a national democracy. It has much more power than the latter and less power than the former. Beyond this sui generis political power, the European Union also has a singular institutional scheme which is, despite the similarities to national-level counterparts, different from the typical national-level system.

For instance, it is impossible to compare the Commission to a government since the executive power is shared with the European Council and the Council of the EU.

The questionable “democratic deficit” of the European Union - The New Federalist

Nonetheless, it is currently very difficult to assess to what extent those singular institutions are democratic since most of the political theories are state-oriented. To sum up, all we can conclude so far are three main points. Firstly, the EU is criticised for its unrepresentative institutional scheme and for not being supported by citizens through high electoral turnouts.

Secondly, this criticism concerning the European Union might be exaggerated, or alternatively the democratic feature of nation states should also be questioned. Thirdly, it is complicated to truly assess to what extent the European Union is democratic since the literature does not truly take into account the sui generis nature of the European Union. Democratizing Europe.


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