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The Revival of Democratic Intergovernmentalism, First Principles and the Case for a Contest-Based Account of Democracy in the European Union

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  • Fabio Wolkenstein, University of Amsterdam

Post-Eurocrisis, normative debates on democracy in the European Union have seen a revival of democratic intergovernmentalism. This article questions not the substantive proposals put forward under the heading of democratic intergovernmentalism, but the theory-building strategy typically used to justify these proposals. It argues that democratic intergovernmentalism theories fail to sufficiently theorise the connection between normative principles and political practice, over-emphasising the former at the expense of the latter. Citizens are thereby relegated to passive recipients of normative standards thought to be independently valid. Providing an alternative to this view, the article then advances a contestation-based account of democracy in the European Union where the central unit of analysis is the agents who propose particular interpretations of what democracy in the European Union means and what institutional reforms need be taken, in domestic and transnational public spheres.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Studies
Pages (from-to)408-425
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

    Research areas

  • European Union, contestation, democracy, democratic intergovernmentalism, legitimacy, partisanship

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