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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 III. The Question of the People of Europe and the Problem of Social Legitimacy

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CHAPTER III

The Question of the People of Europe and the Problem of Social Legitimacy

Demos, Demoi, Demoicracy

During the initial phase of the “permissive consensus” the question of the democratic legitimacy of European integration was not raised, but when this fractured in the 1990s and national sovereignty continued to be transferred to the EU, this issue became inevitable. It was, therefore, the end of passive social acceptance of all that political elites had decided that led to the emergence of the debate on the democratic deficit1. Indeed, the deepening of European integration since the Maastricht Treaty has increased the gap between winners (the few) and losers (the many) and from there many analysts point to the absence of a common demos as being the main cause of the crisis in the EU.

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