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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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A long standing academic in the studies of political and institutional processes, the author has focused his analytic interest on countries and situations beyond the frontiers of Spain. His qualities of observation and capacity for synthesis of the diverse contexts examined are reflected in his numerous publications. Cesáreo Rodríguez-Aguilera de Prat is a generous writer both in quantity and quality.

An interest in unravelling the issues that concern the development of Europeanisation is recurrent in work of the Barcelona based political scientist. In the widest sense, this book is concerned with the so-called “Democratic Deficit” in the construction of Europe. And it does this dealing with what the European state parties say regarding integration in the Old World. The starting rationale in the conception of the book is perceptive. Is the European Union facing a situation in which the principal problem is the insufficient degree of democracy?

We must remember that Europeanisation has been modelled by the diffusion of shared ideas and values, by the harmonisation of economic structures and by a super state type institutional system. It involves countries that have acquired democratic values of equality and human rights. But the concept of Europeanisation suffers from normative precision. It is polysemic and subject to various interpretations given its dynamic character, leading inexorably to the erosion of the individualised sovereignty of the member states of the European Union and the gradual development of common continent-wide institutions and policies (the Schengen Agreement, the...

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