Theories of federalism can provide a set of assumptions, concepts, and arguments that shed light on many aspects of European integration. Applying the federalism perspective opens up EU scholars to a range of relevant comparative cases that provide analytic leverage and insight on the EU. This perspective also enables EU scholars to draw on and contribute to a well-established literature in comparative politics, thus connecting their findings about the EU to broader academic debates. EU scholars have applied theories of federalism to help explain a wide range of questions about European integration, from general questions about why and how the EU came together as a political system to narrow questions about very specific policy areas, to the causes and consequences of the EU’s recent crises. This chapter discusses the main assumptions, concepts, and methodologies in federalism theories of the EU, and explores how this perspective can shed light on the eurozone crisis and the crisis of democratic backsliding among EU member states.
R. Daniel Kelemen
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.
This chapter discusses the changing patterns of democratic backsliding and breakdown. Since the end of the Cold War, coups no longer present the greatest threat to democracy. Instead, there has been a rise in what can be referred to as ‘authoritarianizations’, or the slow dismantling of democratic norms and practices by democratically-elected leaders. The chapter particularly focuses on identifying and describing the steps that contemporary populist parties and leaders are using to dismantle democracy. It then provides an in-depth look at two prominent cases of authoritarianization: Russia and Turkey. Finally, the chapter looks at three key implications of the changing patterns in democratic breakdown. Staying abreast of changes in how democracies fall apart is fundamental to developing strategies to engage and counter autocracy's resurgence.
Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Natasha Lindstaedt, and Erica Frantz
This chapter discusses the definitions of democracy, which have evolved over time. Although the concept of democracy appears straightforward, this is not necessarily the case. The first approach to defining democracy was the minimalist approach, or those definitions of democracy that focus primarily on the competitiveness of elections. The second approach was the maximalist approach, which holds that democracy must be viewed as more than the presence of regularly held, competitive elections. In addition to repeated, competitive elections, supporters of a maximalist approach include a variety of other attributes in their definitions of democracy. Some of the criteria are procedural (the rule of law, participation, and accountability), while others are substantive (equality and political and civil liberties). Ultimately, clear and consistent frameworks for democracy can provide objective warning signs and early indicators of democratic backsliding. The chapter then explores the four prominent models of democracy: protective, pluralist, participatory, and deliberative.
Richard Corbett and Daniel Kenealy
This chapter examines the democratic credentials of the EU. Beginning with a discussion of the idea of democracy beyond the state, it explores academic debates about whether the EU suffers a ‘democratic deficit’. The chapter evaluates the EU along various dimensions, including how powers are separated and divided within the EU, the extent to which executive accountability is established, and the various mechanisms of representation in the EU. It explores the nature of European elections, the role of European political parties, the role of national parliaments in EU policy-making and recent innovations in the way that the president of the European Commission is chosen. The chapter concludes with a discussion of fundamental rights, values, and the rule of the law in the EU with a particular focus on recent developments in Hungary and Poland.