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Public Choice and the Challenges of Democracy

Edited by José Casas Pardo and Pedro Schwartz

This timely and important volume addresses the serious challenges faced by democracy in contemporary society. With contributions from some of the world’s most prestigious scholars of public choice and political science, this comprehensive collection presents a complete overview of the threats democracy must confront, by both contesting accepted ideas and offering new approaches. Using theoretical and empirical evidence, this book will be a significant addition to the current literature, providing original and enlightening perspectives on the theory of democracy.
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Chapter 9: Citizenship and Democracy in International Organizations

Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer


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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