‘We the People’ versus ‘We the Heads of States’: the debate on the democratic deficit of the European Union

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The Eurozone crisis has rekindled the debate on the democratic deficit of the European Union (EU). In this paper, the debate is reconsidered by contrasting the modus vivendi of ‘We the People’ in the USA with the modus vivendi of ‘We the Heads of States’ in the EU. It is demonstrated that many of the solutions to the alleged democratic deficit focus on how more voice can be given to ‘We the People’ on the input side, but that this goes against the functional logic of the EU system, thereby undermining its ability to govern. Instead, we argue that more attention should be given to how to increase output legitimacy, and a number of proposals are put forward. Such a reshuffling of the analytical focus is the best way forward to escape the current impasse in the debate on how to ‘fix’ democracy in the EU.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)196-216
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2015

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