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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 IV. The Electoral Programmes


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The Electoral Programmes

The European Parliamentary Elections of 2014

In the eighth direct elections to the EP of May 2014, 413 million citizens were called to vote the election of 751 MEPs (15 more than in the previous legislature) and again, the epithet of “second degree” was confirmed and repeated with the low turnout achieved (42.5%, even lower than in 2009 at 43%). These elections were held in a context of severe crisis in the EU which in reality encompasses three dimensions that will need to be addressed simultaneously if an eventual solution is to be found.

In the first place, an economic crisis from 2008, aggravated by the absence of a genuinely accountable and transparent European economic government and by inflexible uncompromising orthodox recipes applied by the “troika” (Commission, ECB, IMF) have been counterproductive. What stands out, in consequence, is the extremely negative management of the Eurozone: 26 million unemployed, serious rifts between the north and south of the EU, an abysmal fiscal imbalance between Germany and the other euro area countries and rising public debt from 75% to 88% of European GDP. The policies of “structural reforms” and austerity have only achieved the prevention of any return to growth and have increased social inequalities: deregulation, privatisation, liberalisation, “flexiblisation” of the labour market, wage “moderation”, pension containment, tax reductions (particularly for large fortunes) and drastic cuts in public spending have profoundly altered the traditional and...

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