Democratic Empowerment in the European Union
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Democratic Empowerment in the European Union

Edited by David Levi-Faur and Frans van Waarden

This book looks at democratic empowerment via institutional designs that extend the political rights of European citizens. It focuses on three themes: first, the positive and negative effects of the European Union institutional design on the political rights of its citizens; second, challenges for democratic regimes across the world in the 21st century in the context of regionalism and globalization; third, the constraints of neoliberalism and capitalist markets on the ability of citizens to effectively achieve their political rights within the Union.
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Chapter 12: Is democratic empowerment enough? The lessons of Brexit for the future of the European Union

Keren Winter-Dinur, Nir Kosti, David Levi-Faur and Guy Mor

Abstract

Chapter 12 by Keren Dinur, Nir Kosti, David Levi-Faur and Guy Mor reflects on the future of the European Union (EU) from the perspective of democratic empowerment following the experience of Brexit. It examines the salience of the democratic deficit in the public discourse surrounding Brexit and finds it to be surprisingly low compared to issues such as immigration, the economy and sovereignty. This exposes the limitations of the new forms of democratic empowerment in containing national-based Euroscepticism. The new channels of participation are found to undermine national sovereignty, and are therefore inadequate in ensuring EU ‘input legitimacy’ which demands requisite representation of national interests in policy making. In the current European political climate, the new forms of democratic empowerment may not be perceived as compensating for insufficient national representation and participation in the EU through national channels. Also, the chapter suggests that the EU’s ‘legitimacy deficit’ in the eyes of British voters is not reducible to a democratic deficit; rather, it is substantively based on a perception of the EU as contravening basic British national interests and the interests of those adversely harmed by processes of liberalization. Democratic empowerment initiatives cannot ensure EU legitimacy as long as the EU’s ‘output legitimacy’ is inadequate. The chapter therefore argues that while democratic empowerment is necessary for EU legitimacy, prosperity and continued integration, it is not a sufficient condition.

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