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Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

9. Democracy and Legitimacy in the European Union  

Stijn Smismans

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.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

13. Conventional Citizen Participation  

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.