New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by José Casas Pardo and Pedro Schwartz
Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer 1 IS DEMOCRACY POSSIBLE IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS? One of the foremost scholars in political science, Robert A. Dahl (1999), takes a strong position with respect to whether international organizations can be made (more) democratic: ‘whatever kind of government may prevail in international organizations it will not be recognizably democratic’ (p. 20). ‘Democracy’ is understood to be a ‘system of popular control over government policies and decisions’ (p. 20). Dahl applies this skepticism to international organizations in general, not only to speciﬁc cases (p. 23). He calls his argument ‘simple and straightforward’: In democratic countries where democratic institutions and practices have been long and well established and where, as best we can tell, a fairly strong democratic political culture exists, it is notoriously diﬃcult for citizens to exercise eﬀective control over many key decisions on foreign aﬀairs. What grounds have we for thinking, then, that citizens in diﬀerent countries engaged in international systems can ever attain the degree of inﬂuence and control over decisions that they now exercise within their own countries? This clear position does not mean that Robert Dahl or other skeptics with respect to democracy in international organizations (for example, Schmitter, 1997) would not wish to see a greater say of the citizenry in the international sphere. They are well aware that, under the prevailing conditions, the issues and decisions taken are remote from the lives and experiences of ordinary citizens, who therefore lack the required...
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