Legislation, Implementation and Deliberation
Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Torbjörn Larsson
Chapter 2: Committees and the Nature of Deliberative Supranationalism in the EU
Torbjörn Larsson INTRODUCTION A classical discussion in the ﬁeld of political science is the issue of political legitimacy – that is, what gives the rulers the right (power) to impose their will on the people or, slightly rephrased, why should the public follow the decisions taken by the rulers, especially when a decision goes against their private interest? The breakthrough of democracy at the beginning of the 20th century and later the triumph over both fascism and communism did not in any way reduce the actuality of this discussion – on the contrary. A low turn-out in general elections, a steady decline in political party membership and the general public’s scepticism towards the elected politicians have rekindled the debate and warnings have been issued of a growing legitimacy gap in today’s democracies (Olsen, 1983, p. 14). The creation of the European Union has played an important role in this discussion and it has been seen both as a possible solution to the problem and as a problem in itself. To some extent the EU is regarded as an instrument by which Member States can solve some of the problems the welfare state is facing and thus restore the general public’s conﬁdence. On the other hand, the organisation and the functioning of the EU have raised serious doubts about the legitimacy of the whole project as such and the question has been asked whether the net effect of the ambition to increase legitimacy through further integration has not in fact been...
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