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Why There is a Democratic Deficit in the EU: A Response to Majone and Moravcsik


  • Follesdal, Andreas
  • Hix, Simon


In a series of recent papers, Giandomenico Majone and Andrew Moravcsik have ‘raised the bar’ in the debate over the so-called ‘democratic deficit’ in the European Union. These two influential scholars both contend that much of the existing analysis is flawed and that the EU is as democratic as it could, and even should, be. We accept many of Moravcsik’s and Majone’s arguments. However, we disagree about one key element: that a democratic polity requires contestation for political leadership and argument over the direction of the policy agenda. This aspect, which is ultimately the difference between a democracy and an enlightened form of authoritarianism, is an essential element of even the ‘thinnest’ theories of democracy, yet is conspicuously weak in the EU.

Suggested Citation

  • Follesdal, Andreas & Hix, Simon, 2005. "Why There is a Democratic Deficit in the EU: A Response to Majone and Moravcsik," European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) 2, CONNEX and EUROGOV networks.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:eurogo:p0002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Giandomenico Majone, 1993. "The European Community Between Social Policy and Social Regulation," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(2), pages 153-170, June.
    2. Wolfgang Streeck & Philippe C. Schmttter, 1991. "From National Corporatism to Transnational Pluralism: Organized Interests in the Single European Market," Politics & Society, , vol. 19(2), pages 133-164, June.
    3. Giandomenico Majone, 2000. "The Credibility Crisis of Community Regulation," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(2), pages 273-302, June.
    4. Abdul Ghafar Noury & Simon Hix & Gérard Roland, 2005. "Power to parties: cohesion and competition in the European Parliament 1979-2001," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7752, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. Tsebelis, George, 1999. "Veto Players and Law Production in Parliamentary Democracies: An Empirical Analysis," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 93(3), pages 591-608, September.
    6. McKay, David, 2001. "Designing Europe: Comparative Lessons from the Federal Experience," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199244355.
    7. Marsh, Michael, 1998. "Testing the Second-Order Election Model after Four European Elections," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(4), pages 591-607, October.
    8. Hix, Simon & Noury, Abdul & Roland, Gã‰Rard, 2005. "Power to the Parties: Cohesion and Competition in the European Parliament, 1979–2001," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(2), pages 209-234, April.
    9. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Passing the Parcel: Who Will End Up Holding Europe's Democratic Deficit? by Mark Harrison
      by Mark Harrison in Mark Harrison's blog on 2012-06-29 12:28:37


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    Cited by:

    1. Claus Offe & Ulrich K. Preuss, 2006. "The Problem of Legitimacy in the European Polity. Is Democratization the Answer?," The Constitutionalism Web-Papers p0028, University of Hamburg, Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Institute of Political Science.
    2. Hortala-Vallve, Rafael & Larcinese, Valentino, 2017. "The Perverse Consequences of Policy Restrictions in the Presence of Asymmetric Information," Political Science Research and Methods, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 411-425, July.
    3. Elena Mihaela LIGHIAN, 2012. "Multilevel Governance and Principle of Subsidiarity in the European Union," Europolity – Continuity and Change in European Governance - Old Series, Department of International Relations and European Integration, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vol. 6(1-2), pages 15-26.
    4. Florian Oberhuber, 2007. "Legitimating the European Union: The Contested Meanings of an EU Constitution," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 25, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
    5. Kröger, Sandra, 2008. "Nothing but consultation: The place of organised civil society in EU policy-making across policies," European Governance Papers (EUROGOV) 3, CONNEX and EUROGOV networks.
    6. Beate Kohler-Koch & Berthold Rittberger, 2006. "Review Article: The 'Governance Turn' in EU Studies," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44, pages 27-49, September.
    7. Christian Joerges; Jurgen Neyer, 2006. "Deliberative Supranationalism Revisited," EUI-LAW Working Papers 20, European University Institute (EUI), Department of Law.

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    democracy; European elections; legitimacy; non-majoritarian institutions; normative political theory; political parties; public opinion; Constitution for Europe; agenda-setting;
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