Democracy in the European Union



Center for European Studies
3324 Turlington Hall
PO Box 117342
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 294-7142
(352) 392-8966 (fax)

April 13, 2012 from 9:00am-5:00pm in 215 Dauer Hall.

This workshop is linked to EUS 4932/EUS 6932: The EU Today, a special advanced seminar in EU studies supported by the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence (JMCE). Panelists and discussants include UF faculty, advanced graduate and undergraduate students, and invited speakers. The workshop is supported by the Jean Monnet Program of the European Union and the Center for European Studies at the University of Florida.








Time Topic / Event
9:30am-10:00am Continental Breakfast
10:00am-10:15am Welcome and Introduction
Amie Kreppel (University of Florida)
10:15am-12:00pm “Conceptualizing Democracy in the European Union”
– Manu Samnotra (University of Florida, USA)
“Political Theory and the Varieties of Democracy”
– Dietmar Schirmer (University of Florida, USA)
“Exits, Voices, Boundaries – A Rokkan/Lijphart Take on the EU’s Democratic Performance”
– Asli Baysal (University of Florida, USA)
“Exploring the History of Integration and Democratic-Deficit in the European Union”
12:00pm-1:30pm Lunch (panelists/presenters only)
1:30pm-3:00pm “Parties, Elections and Democracy in the European Union”
– Olivier Rozenberg (Sciences Po (Paris), France)
“The Influence of the European Parliament and the Indifference of its Voters: A Spurious Correlation?”
– Magda Giurcanu (University of Florida, USA)
“European Attitudes and Political Participation at European Parliament Elections”
– Tristan Vellinga (University of Florida, USA)
“Controlling the Agenda: The Impact of Accession on Democracy in Candidate States”
3:00pm-3:30pm Coffee Break
3:30pm-5:00pm “Political Institutions and Democracy in the European Union”
– Massimo Starita (University of Palermo, Italy)
“Meanings and Functions of Democracy in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice”
– Giovanni Piccirilli (LUISS University, Italy)
“National Parliaments After the Lisbon Treaty (and the Fiscal Compact): The End of Dualistic Constitutionalism?”
– Glyn Morgan (Syracuse University, USA)
“Democracy and the Eurozone Crisis”


Exploring the History of Integration and Democratic-Deficit in the European Union

Asli Baysal (University of Florida, USA)

The 20th century witnessed several conscious efforts on the side of Europeans to build peace on the continent and to provide and guarantee protection to its inhabitants, specifically after the disastrous effects of the two world wars. The European integration project flourished as a result of a demand for peace and prosperity in a particular geography at a particular time. Although the European integration project created a desirable environment for peace and prosperity starting with the foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952, the project was also criticized for its intrusive nature and rapid pace. This paper aims to trace the change in the understanding of the purpose and the processes of European integration by investigating the rhetoric in history-making decisions in the EU and the narratives that surround those decisions. In doing so, the paper looks at three phases in the EU history, (integration without democratization, democratization to promote integration, further integration to promote democratization) and investigates two fundamental transformations in the focus of integration that create these modalities: the shift from the substantive goal of peace and prosperity to the procedural/institutional goal of democratization and the shift from institutional democratization to a more substantive goal of socio-psychological democratization. The main argument is that these three stages of integration in the EU, are relevant for our understanding of the EU’s democratic credentials.

European Attitudes and Political Participation at European Parliament Elections

Magda Giurcanu (University of Florida, USA)

The discussion of European Parliament (EP) elections as ‘second order national elections’ that fail to link the political system to its citizens lies at the core of EU today’s perceived deficiencies, as a supranational framework that lacks democratic representation, popular legitimacy, and democratic accountability. Moreover, scholars point to the fact that EP elections cannot, in fact, address the problem of democratic legitimacy and that these elections are ‘inescapably’ designed to remain ‘second-order national’ elections. According to such studies, the EP elections cannot fulfill the linkage functions between citizens and the EU on issues that are relevant to the EU policy-making process because the outcome of the elections does not matter for the allocation of power in the executive and the agenda-setting bodies. The present study revisits these arguments and investigates whether voters display at EP elections a vote based on their EU political and economic attitudes, in addition to attitudes vis-à-vis domestic party politics, politicians, and policy issues. A positive finding would imply that there is a connection between EU citizens and EU institutions at EP elections, that, with the exception of only a handful of articles (Hobolt et al. 2008; Clark and Rohrschneider 2009; Hobolt and Witrock 2010; de Vries et al. 2010), has been largely said not to exist.

Democracy and the Eurozone Crisis

Glyn Morgan (Syracuse University, USA)

This paper argues that the Eurozone Crisis is rooted less in problems unique to Europe than in the nature of global financial capitalism. Europe’s mistake was to think that a common currency could be the agent of political integration rather than the outcome of social and economic convergence. A successful European polity requires a great deal more social and economic uniformity than many people in Europe recognize. The idea that more democracy is the answer to Europe’s problems is, however, a mistake. Europe is doomed to remain a democratically-deficient polity. This conclusion does not, however, entail that the EU – or, more generally, the Project of European Integration – is unworthy of support. The EU warrants support, because it offers the best means for realizing social and global justice. In short, justice trumps democracy as a human value. Insofar as the EU secures just outcomes, the EU’s sub-optimal democratic institutions don’t matter.

National Parliaments After the Lisbon Treaty (and the Fiscal Compact): The End of Dualistic Constitutionalism?

Giovanni Piccirilli (LUISS University, Italy)

The presentation will show the current status of an ongoing research on the enhancement of powers of National Parliaments after the Treaty of Lisbon. Even though the majority of political scientists is quite sceptical about the effectiveness of the powers attributed to National Parliaments, claiming their irrelevance or their actual incapability to influence the functioning of the EU, the point of view of the constitutional lawyer ends to be quite the opposite. The level of (at least potential) legal integration between national and EU legal system achieved with the involvement of the NPs in the democratic legitimacy of the EU represents a point of no return for the European democracy and may give the way to the completion of a substantial constitutional framework. Moreover, the development constituted by the so called “Fiscal compact” seems to strengthen further on the way of a federal EU, as it is shown by its ratification process even more than by its content. To summarise, the sole legal framework might be insufficient for a full implementation of democracy at a supranational level, but now instrument for its practice do exist in the European Union and it will be up to the citizens to use them.

The Influence of the European Parliament and the Indifference of its Voters: A Spurious Correlation?

Olivier Rozenberg (Sciences Po (Paris), France)

The paper defends the view that, as paradoxical as it may seem, the opposite trend regarding the electoral participation to the European elections and the empowerment of the European Parliament, is not fortuitous. The lack of visibility and legibility of MEPs activities does not Counter weight the second-orderness of European elections. In return, not only does the electoral indifference have justified the empowerment of the assembly but it has also helped the Parliament to use those new prerogatives. Indeed, the parliament participation to the community policy-making is both facilitated by the electoral distance of the assembly and rooted in the will of the institution to demonstrate its utility.

Political Theory and the Varieties of Democracy

Manu Samnotra (University of Florida, USA)

This presentation provides an overview of the various models of democratic rule. The fact that this regime-type cannot be adequately captured by one theoretical approach says much about its contested nature. Even the etymology of democracy is a matter of some debate. Does it mean a regime where the demos (the people) rule? Or does it mean, as others assert, that it is the regime where the people begins/leads (arche). The aim of this presentation is to serve as an introduction to a variety of democratic models, such as: direct, representative, elite-competitive, radical participatory, agonistic, deliberative, etc. Beyond the broader aim of presenting these typologies, the presentation will also explore the normative concerns that lie at the heart of this essentially contested concept. The disputes that arise between competing descriptions of democracy are, at their core, normative disputes about who should be allowed to participate, the extent, frequency and nature of participation. The choice between the assortments of various descriptions of democracy, therefore, also carries normative consequences. The democratic potential of the European Union as a supra-national entity is hence at stake in the descriptive moniker we attach to its model of democracy.

Exits, Voices, Boundaries – A Rokkan/Lijphart Take on the EU’s Democratic Performance

Dietmar Schirmer (University of Florida, USA)

Every now and then, it may be useful to turn to the classics of our discipline and see what they have to tell us about contemporary questions. In this case, I shall turn to Stein Rokkan’s theory of European state-formation to explore what it can contribute to the problem of democracy in the EU – beyond the well-worn arguments of the ‘democratic deficit’-discourse. What makes this exercise interesting is that Rokkan’s work lends itself to conflicting interpretations of the effects of European integration on democratic performance: One line of argument (which Bartolini has pursued in his 2005 book) foregrounds the “unbundling” of boundaries and the opening-up of exit options for formerly locked-in actors and finds the EU to undermine the accomplishments of the ‘liberal democracy cum welfare-state’-package that has become the signature of the Western European postwar. An alternative reading puts emphasis instead on democratic opportunities that a more complex geometry of government provides for regional and national autonomy. In this perspective, the same territorial “unbundling” that Bartolini holds responsible for democratic decline appears as a potential democracy-booster: to the degree that European integration increases the political autonomy of regions and sub-state national minorities, it makes European politics more consensus-orientated and consociational – and hence potentially more, not less, democratic.

Meanings and Functions of Democracy in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice

Massimo Starita (University of Palermo, Italy)

After the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon a variety of rules referring to democracy have been incorporated in Title II of the Treaty establishing the European Union (TEU). While representative democracy is referred to in Article 10, first paragraph, as the basic principle on which the functioning of the Union is founded, Articles 10 to 12 introduce in the EU legal system rules and instruments linkable to non- representative conceptions of democracy. Following these premises, the meanings and functions of democracy in the law of the European Union will be analyzed through the lenses of the jurisprudence of the ECJ. First, the case law emerged before Lisbon will be considered. As we will see, since two seminal ECJ rulings in 1980 the Court is attached to a representative model of democracy. In Roquèttes Frères and Maizena rulings, representative democracy was assumed to be part of the EC system of rules as an inherent principle, inferred from different articles of the EC Treaties. After having analyzed the functions performed, in the decades since, by the principle of representative democracy in the case law of the ECJ, I will also try to assess the limits on the applicability of this principle. Then, I will focus on the impact that Articles 10 – 12 TEU have had on the case law of the ECJ and on the impact they can reasonably be expected to have in the future. The paper will explore the question whether a legal principle on non-representative democracy can be inferred from these rules. Lastly, I will discuss the functions that a non-representative democratic principle could perform.

Controlling the Agenda: The Impact of Accession on Democracy in Candidate States

Tristan Vellinga (University of Florida, USA)

While the supranational institutions of the European Union are criticized for a perceived democratic deficit compared to member states, the process of accession to the EU is often seen as having a positive impact on the democratic practice of states who join (accede). While the EU has certainly made a positive contribution to democracy in accession and new member states, the extent of the EU’s effect on democratic practice in these states, both in the short and long term, is not completely understood. Considering this, it is difficult to make an assessment on the quality of democracy in the European Union without first understanding how democratic practice has changed in its traditional venue of the state. This paper advances towards this goal by setting forth an argument about the ways that the EU accession process influences democratic practice in new and candidate states. My theoretical approach suggests that the EU can transform that nature of political conflict by altering alliances between voters and parties. In other words, by influencing the issues and stances that politicians and parties can deliver on (acting as an agenda manipulator), the accession process can alter, in specific ways, the structure and composition of political cleavages (major conflicts between parties and voters). This research is important because it produces theoretically derived, empirically testable hypotheses concerning the impact of the accession process on the nature of social and political cleavages. The structure of social alliances has long been a defining feature of the study of democracy and democratization. If the EU is able to influencing the structure of competition, this indicates the EU’s democratic impact extends far beyond policy and legislative changes.


Asli Baysal

Asli Baysal is a third year Ph.D. student in Political Science at University of Florida. Her fields of specialization are Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Methodology. She is specifically interested in Democracy in the European Union and currently working on my dissertation prospectus.

Magda Giurcanu

Magda Giurcanu is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, University of Florida. Originally from Romania, Magda has B.A. in History and a M.A. in Political Science. She is currently finishing her dissertation on the role and consequences of EP elections’ results for supranational and national structures. Specifically, she questions the labeling of EP elections as ‘second-order national elections’ or as ‘elections serving little or no purpose’. By challenging these labels, Magda shows first that the EU public takes the opportunity to express its affective and utilitarian support for the political system at election times. Second, Magda posits that the ‘low stakes’ of EP elections reduce the costs of new party entry at EP elections when compared to their costs at national elections. This possibility indicates that new parties, in particular, can use the EP elections as ‘windows of opportunity’ for testing electoral markets.

Glyn Morgan

Glyn Morgan is Director of the European Union Center at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He is the author of The Idea of a European Superstate: Public Justification and European Integration (2007). He teaches classes in Political Philosophy, Social Theory, and European Politics. He is currently working on a book entitled Justice, Democracy, and the Eurozone Crisis.

Giovanni Piccirilli

Giovanni Piccirilli holds a Research Grant in Public Law at the Department of Political Science of the LUISS University of Rome. He obtained a Ph.D. in Law, Methods and Techniques of Law-making and Assessment at the University of Genoa with a final dissertation of the Amendments in the parliamentary decision-making process. He currently teaches Legal drafting in the Masters’ Programme in Parliament and Public Policies and Introduction to EU law in the Masters’ Programme in European Studies (in English), both organised by the LUISS School of Government. In 2012 he is JMCE Visiting Professor at Centre of European Studies of the University of Florida. He served as Legal Advisor in the Italian Parliament for the Chairman of the Committee on Legislation and had an Internship experience in the Parliament of Canada, on the Speaker’s Staff. In 2010 his monograph about the parliamentary amending process was awarded the “Sergio P. Panunzio-Opera prima” prize by the Association of the Italian Constitutional Scholars, dedicated yearly to young researchers for their first book.

Olivier Rozenberg

Olivier Rozenberg is Associate Research Professor at the Centre d’études européennes, Sciences Po (Paris). His research focuses on the study of political institutions and particularly of legislatures in Europe – national parliaments as well as the European Parliament. Within this framework, he studies both the sociology of legislators and the policy analysis of parliamentary activities. He is also interested in the Europeanisation of national political systems and especially in the European activities of national Parliaments. He is responsible of the French team of a European network on that last issue. He is also developing another ongoing research on the use of open data and informatics for analysing the legislative process within the French Parliament. He edited in 2012 Parliamentary Roles in Modern Legislatures with Magnus Blomgren, and The Roles and Function of Parliamentary Questions with Shane Martin (both at Routledge).

Manu Samnotra

Manu Samnotra is a Ph.D. candidate in political theory at the University of Florida. He received his B.A. in politics and economics from Ithaca College and his M.A. in political science from the New School for Social Research. His dissertation is tentatively titled, Between Shame and Courage, and focuses on the work of Hannah Arendt. His other areas of interest include democratic theory, post-colonialism, and Empire.

Dietmar Schirmer

Dietmar Schirmer received his Ph.D. Free University Berlin. He has held faculty positions at FU Berlin, Cornell University, University of Vienna, and University of British Columbia and is currently the DAAD Professor, Political Science Dept. and Center for European Studies, University of Florida. His current research projects include The Beautiful State: Architecture and Political Authority in Europe Since the Renaissance; States and National Minorities in the European Union (in collaboration with Betul Gokkir, University of Florida); The (Im) Probability of ‘Black Nationalism’: Martin Delaney Revisited, with Michelle R. Smith, Barnard College), and The EU as Domestic Polity and the Historical Sociology of State-Formation. On-going research interests include state formation, nationalism and post-nationalism, European integration, political aesthetics and political culture.

Massimo Starita

Massimo Starita teaches Public International Law at the University of Palermo (Faculty of Law). He is Member of the Advisory Board of the Ph.D. Programme in Human Rights at the University of Palermo. Before holding his Ph.D. in International Law from the University of Salerno, He was a Visiting Fellow at the International Criminal Justice and Weapons Control Centre – De Paul University, Chicago and at the Ecole Nationale d’Aministration, Paris. His publications include two books in Italian (one on National Reconciliation Processes and International Law, and one The Democratic Principles in the Law of European Union) as well as articles in a variety of legal journals in Italian, English and French. He has given invited lectures and has participated as Speaker in national and international symposia organized by academic associations including the European Society of International Law and the Italian Society of International Law. He is interested in Peace-building and Democratization; relationships between Human Rights and Democracy; Constitutional Aspects of the European Union.

Tristan Vellinga

Tristan Vellinga received a B.S. in political science from the University of Iowa and is now a Ph.D. student in the department of political science at the University of Florida, where he studies comparative and American politics. His interests include comparative European Union studies, European enlargement, Turkish politics, and Turkey-EU relations. His current research focuses on the role that enlargement has on the party systems of new and existing member states and what this means for larger trajectories of party competition and state development.