Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series
Edited by Dieter Fuchs and Hans-Dieter Klingemann
Chapter 8: Making the Polity: Exploring the Linkage between European Citizens’ and Political Elites’ Preference for European Union Public Policy
Catherine E. de Vries and Christine Arnold Many political commentators believe the European Union (EU) is currently experiencing a deep democratic crisis. Ordinary citizens are said to feel disempowered – unable to use democracy to further their interests. Indicatively, though one goal of the European constitutional treaty was to bring EU institutions closer to the citizenry, it failed to appeal to French, Dutch and Irish voters. Their rejection of the Treaty has led some scholars to suggest that the reason citizens are turning away from the EU is its unresponsive technocratic bureaucracy and democratic deficit. The trouble with these debates is that the concept of the democratic deficit is often invoked without being empirically quantified. This can be problematic. For instance, others question the very existence of a democratic deficit and assert that the public does have an impact on EU policy makers. These optimists claim that the responsiveness of EU institutions is amply demonstrable (Majone 1998, 2006; Moravcsik 2002). By way of contrast, sceptics claim that there is ‘no demos’ and that European institutions are non-responsive (Weiler et al. 1995; Follesdal and Hix 2006). Obviously, both sets of scholarly conclusions cannot be true. It may be that the source of this discrepancy is the underspecified definition of democratic deficit and the fact that scholars have yet to empirically quantify the concept of political representation (Crombez 2003). The objective of this chapter is to provide a preliminary analysis of political representation in the EU. This is done through an examination of...
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