Post-Nationalism and the Problem of Supranational Political Representation: Legitimising the EU without the Nation-State
Title: Post-Nationalism and the Problem of Supranational Political Representation: Legitimising the EU without the Nation-State
Author: GLENCROSS, Andrew
Series/Number: EUI SPS; 2008/01
This paper explores post-nationalism through the lens of representation to assess whether post-nationalism is appropriate for legitimising the supranational EU polity. It claims that the concept and the practice of political representation in the modern state depend on establishing a tripartite distinction between state, government and civil society. This is contrasted with competing notions of the modern state, notably Rousseau’s idea of popular sovereignty and the Jacobin notion of ‘immediate democracy’. The tripartite system, it is argued, enables the sovereign state to found political authority on democratic principles and also allows it to represent an abstract common good. Furthermore, the idea of the nation and the construction of a national narrative are shown to complement the system of representation by providing a transgenerational concept of the common good to which government can be held accountable. The paper subsequently contrasts this national principle of representation with attempts to legitimise the supranational EU polity in a post-national manner: democratic governance and constitutional patriotism. However, governance offers no guarantees as to how and why citizens will be better represented through its transnational networks and by insisting on stakeholding does away with the idea of a common good. Constitutional patriotism forgets that any EU constitution on which it is supposed to be founded will itself be the product of a plurality of debates, memories and reasons associated with various distinctive national narratives. Thus post-nationalism, at least as currently imagined, does not seem well adapted for solving the legitimacy problems bedevilling the supranational EU.
Subject: legitimacy; European Union; post-national democracy; representation
Type of Access: openAccess