Why not solve the democratic deficit within the EU through genuine transnational political conflict?
Title: Why not solve the democratic deficit within the EU through genuine transnational political conflict?
Author: KARREMANS, Jan
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2014/107; EUDO - European Union Democracy Observatory
The last European elections of 2014 were characterized by a concrete effort to increase public participation to the European political debate. However the overall electoral turnout remained disappointingly low. In this paper I deal with the problem of the formation of a European electorate and argue that a better representation on the European integration dimension should substantially contribute to the formation of a transnational electorate. Often, there is the fear that European political conflict framed on this dimension would lead to a radical bipolar conflict between pro- and anti-EU parties. In this paper I show that, if citizens’ preferences are properly represented, this does not have to be the case. What I show is that citizens’ preferences on European integration are distributed in three roughly equivalent blocs: pro-EU, anti-EU and a neutral position. The point I make is that a proper representation of the neutral position should ensure that the conflict does not become too radical, as the parties representing the neutral position would be the necessary coalition partners of both pro- and anti-EU parties. An important shortcoming of the current European parliament, I argue, is that the neutral position on European integration is not represented and that consequently there is a disproportionate high presence of pro-EU parties. This misrepresentation in the long run may increase the public appeal of Euro-sceptic parties. The data on which my argument is based are from the 2014 Eurobarometer survey.
Subject: EU; Democratic deficit; European integration; Representation; European Parliament; Euroscepticism; European electorate
Type of Access: openAccess