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The European Democratic Deficit

The Response of the Parties in the 2014 Elections

Cesáreo Rodríguez-Aguilera de Prat

The «never-ending crisis» that started in 2008 and the technocratic and fiscal measures demanded by the «Troika» have aggravated the EU’s so-called «democratic deficit» more than ever before. In this essay the principal theoretical and practical dimensions of this phenomenon at the levels of institution, procedure and social legitimacy are set out and developed. With this in mind, the dysfunctions in the architecture of the institutions, the elite, complex and opaque mechanisms in decision-making and, most importantly, the growing critical estrangement of many citizens reveals that poor democratic quality of the EU constitutes its principal and most serious political problem. To empirically illustrate this debate, Rodríguez-Aguilera evaluates the positions and proposals of the parties in the six most populous countries that have addressed this issue through a comparative analysis of their political programmes.
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Chapter II. Elements of the Democratic Deficit


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Elements of the Democratic Deficit

Why is the European Union not a genuine democracy?

The EU poses a major challenge to democratic theory because it is linked to the concept of “sovereignty”, so that the only empirical democracies are national. In fact, it is inevitable that, in comparison with the States, the EU is seen as less democratic precisely because its deficit with respect to this is structural and in this sense, to contextualise and differentiate the phenomenon what needs to be known previously is what this entity is before assuming what can be expected from it. Currently one can not demand something from the EU it can not give – because it is neither a multinational nor much less national State, its democratic level should not be required to be similar to or correspond with those systems. The democratic deficit in the EU could theoretically be overcome if it eventually converted itself into a real political community, but this is remote, lacking as it does many preconditions1.

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