Electoral Representation at the European level and its Institutional Design: A reappraisal of recent reform plans
The double role of national political parties in both national and European politics is an important explanatory factor for the dilatory development of European democracy. This paper contends that the present institutional design of electoral procedures has political costs and is one of the main reasons for this two-faced representation. The argument proceeds in four steps. In the first part, the paper recapitulates that representation is a concept closely related to issues of accountability and responsiveness. Its practical application at the European level depends very much on the definition of the 'object' of representation. The second part demonstrates that democracy has not been a legalnormative notion during the early stages of European integration. However, since the signing of the Maastricht treaty genuine attempts have been made to go beyond regulatory matters and to create a political system with democratic credentials. Thirdly, the essay analyses new approaches in the design of electoral rules and evaluates the functioning of European political parties in view of the construction of a transnational political community. The final section addresses the knotty question whether it is desirable or even necessary for the European Union to become a more politicized governance system.
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