This chapter examines some of the main alternatives to representative methods of democratic decision-making practised in contemporary Europe. The chapter first focuses on referendums, providing an overview of their use across Europe’s democracies and examining how much scope is given to citizens to control when they are held and what they are about. The chapter then reviews the wider panoply of democratic innovations that, in combination, see democracies move beyond being merely ‘vote-centred’ representative processes. This includes the relatively recent emergence of deliberative forms of democracy, in which citizens are brought into the heart of debates on key policy issues through their involvement in ‘deliberative mini-publics’ such as citizens’ assemblies.
Direct and Deliberative Democracy
David M. Farrell and Luke Field
This chapter examines the importance of law and the rule of law by looking at real-life situations through the lens of theoretical models that consider why people obey the law and how judges interpret the law. The chapter considers when and why citizens and elected officials follow the law. It then moves to the conditions under which this obedience of laws falls. It also explores the importance of courts and judges in interpreting the law, and analyses the interaction of politics and law as a way to try to understand how judges come to their decisions. In particular, it looks at the interaction between national and European Union (EU) law.
Michelle Cini and Nieves Pérez-Solórzano Borragán
This chapter comprises a very brief introduction to European Union (EU) politics. It aims to help those students who are completely new to the EU by drawing attention to some general (background) information and context which helps to make sense of the chapters that follow. To that end the chapter begins by questioning whether the EU is ‘in crisis’. It goes on to reflect on what the EU is, why it was originally set up, who has and can join, who pays (and how much), what the EU does, and what role citizens play in the EU. The chapter ends by explaining how the book is organized.
This chapter treats democracy as a way of approaching problems through involving a variety of interests and actors along with citizens in interactive problem solving within the basic institutional structure of liberal capitalist democracy. It is manifested in for example public consultation, alternative dispute resolution, policy dialogue, lay citizen deliberation, and public inquiries. The turn from government to more decentralized and networked governance can be seen as a kind of democratic pragmatism, though networks do not always enhance democracy. This problem solving must be a flexible process that involves many voices and cooperation across a plurality of perspectives. The degree of participation with which pragmatists are happy often corresponds to existing liberal democracies and enables congruence between the demands of rationality in social problem solving and democratic values, though efforts exist to deepen both the democratic and problem-solving capacity of participation.
This chapter discusses the extent to which decision-making in the European Union can be considered democratic and legitimate, clarifying the concepts ‘democracy’ and ‘legitimacy’. The European democratic deficit became an important issue of debate only after the Maastricht Treaty transferred considerable powers to the EU. The main solution has been inspired by the parliamentary model of democracy and involves strengthening the European Parliament (EP), while also paying attention to the role of national parliaments and regional and local authorities. The chapter considers different stages of policy-making and different modes of governance, transparency and the role of civil society, and discusses wider issues associated with the democracy and legitimacy of the Union, such as the impact of the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty. The chapter concludes by warning that three main crises—the economic, migration, and security crises—have revived nationalist and populist movements exacerbating the challenges to the EU’s legitimacy.
Ian McAllister and Stephen White
This chapter examines the most visible and politically important act of conventional citizen participation: turning out to vote in a national election. Patterns of political participation are influenced by a variety of institutional factors, such as the type of electoral system and the number of political parties in a country, along with individual socioeconomic factors such as a person’s educational attainments or income. A particular problem in many previously authoritarian societies is the absence of a diverse civil society, so that the social trust upon which a healthy democracy depends is often absent. The chapter first considers various dimensions of political participation before discussing voter turnout in democratic countries. It then analyses the effects of institutional arrangements such as election rules, the type of electoral system, and the party system on political participation. Finally, it describes some of the factors that determine whether or not citizens participate in politics.
Catherine E. De Vries, Sara B. Hobolt, Sven-Oliver Proksch, and Jonathan B. Slapin
Foundations of European Politics introduces important tools of social science and comparative analysis. The first part of the book acts as an introduction to the topic, looking at democratic politics and multilevel politics in Europe. The second part moves on to citizens and voters, considering issues related to ideology and voting decisions. Part III looks at elections and introduces electoral systems and direct democracy, representation, political parties, and party competition. The next part is about government and policy. The last part looks at the rule of law, democracy, and backsliding.
This chapter focuses on citizen attitudes, values, cultures, and behaviours, which underpin the British political system. Particularly important is voting for elected representatives, whether MPs, Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), Members of the Senedd (MSs), Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLAs), directly elected mayors, police and crime commissioners (PCCs), local councillors, or even parish councillors. Then there are extensive forms of political participation from citizens and groups, ranging from complaining to public authorities to protesting. Both voting and participation are linked to wider attitudes and beliefs about politics. The chapter also provides an understanding of the different forms of turbulence that have emerged in recent years, in particular since 2014, with the arrival of populist movements, and the more frequent use of referendums.
Christian Welzel and Ronald Inglehart
This chapter examines the role that the concept of political culture plays in comparative politics. In particular, it considers how the political culture field increases our understanding of the social roots of democracy and how these roots are transforming through cultural change. In analysing the inspirational forces of democracy, key propositions of the political culture approach are compared with those of the political economy approach. The chapter first provides an overview of cultural differences around the world, before tracing the historical roots of the political culture concept. It then tackles the question of citizens’ democratic maturity and describes the allegiance model of the democratic citizen. It also explores party–voter dealignment, the assertive model of the democratic citizen, and political culture in non-democracies. It concludes with an assessment of how trust, confidence, and social capital increase a society’s capacity for collective action.
This chapter examines The Federalist's defence of the newly drafted US Constitution of 1787 and compares its arguments with those of the Antifederalists. The Federalist is a collection of newspaper columns written between October 1787 and May 1788 in support of the proposed Constitution. Its three authors — Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay — wrote under the pseudonym Publius. The chapter first provides a short biography of the authors of The Federalist before discussing a key theme to which Federalists and Antifederalists returned repeatedly: whether the system of government constituted by the new constitution was ‘republican’ or not. It also considers the arguments of both camps about the size and extent of this republic, its system of representation, the sources of civic corruption and virtue, whether a standing army is preferable to a citizen militia, and whether a republic requires a Bill of Rights to protect its citizens' liberties.