The Question of Deliberative Supranationalism in the EU

Questioning the alleged democratic deficit of the EU, this paper makes the case for discourse theory as alternative to the traditional liberal and republican conceptions of democracy.

ARENA Working Paper 04/1999 (html)

Erik O. Eriksen

The democratic deficit of the EU, it is often contended, is due to the lack of European political parties, representative accountability and a properly functioning public sphere. However, it may be argued that the underlying evaluative scheme which this diagnosis rests on, is based either on liberal aggregative or civic-republican assumptions about democracy. These perspectives offer a pessimistic assessment of the EU project and one that is premised on an overly confined notion of legitimacy. In this paper I try to show that discourse theory represents a promising theoretical alternative to liberal and republican theories of democracy and the standards associated with these because it conceives of the public sphere as a pluralistic institution for opinion formation and conceives of representative bodies not only as bargaining 'markets' but also as deliberating 'fora'.

Tags: legitimacy, deliberative democracy, supranationalism
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM