International Handbook on Informal Governance
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International Handbook on Informal Governance

Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Christine Neuhold

Acknowledging that governance relies not only on formal rules and institutions but to a significant degree also on informal practices and arrangements, this unique Handbook examines and analyses a wide variety of theoretical, conceptual and normative perspectives on informal governance.
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Chapter 4: Informal Politics: The Normative Challenge

Christine Reh


Christine Reh* INTRODUCTION: THE COMPLEXITY OF MODERN POLITICS The claim that political decisions at the national, supranational and international levels are taken under conditions of ever-increasing complexity has become commonplace in both academic discourse and public debate. Complexity stems from a variety of sources – the multiplicity of policy problems to be tackled and the degree of expertise required to evaluate and solve them; the plethora of (non-state) actors and stakeholders involved in different stages of policy-making; and the overlap of domestic, European and global decision arenas in the ‘de-bordering space’ that is modern politics. In the European Union (EU) more particularly, two recent institutional and systemic developments have added further complexity: the introduction of codecision as a new legislative procedure in 1993, and the Union’s enlargement to 27 member states by 2007. If the former development has diversified the institutional rules and interests of legislative decision-making, the latter has increased the sheer number of actors and preferences as well as the EU’s cultural and party-political heterogeneity. Increasing complexity has triggered a variety of responses – political and academic, institutional and normative. Most fundamentally, observers have questioned the relevance of parliamentary democracy altogether and have advocated different forms of post-parliamentary governance (Burns 1999). More generally, we witness two contrasting developments, apparent at both the national and European levels (Héritier and Mair 2007). On the one hand, political decision-makers are increasingly ‘sealed off’ from their wider constituencies, as well as from the rank-and-file of elected representatives. The number of decision-makers is de...

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