Democratic Legitimacy and the European Parliament

Oskar Niedermayer and Richard Sinnott

in Public Opinion and Internationalized Governance

Published in print September 1998 | ISBN: 9780198294764
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600005 | DOI:

Series: Beliefs in Government

 Democratic Legitimacy and the European Parliament

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This chapter addresses the issue of democratic representation and legitimacy in the context of the European Community, with particular reference to one sector of its institutional structure: the European Parliament. The evidence shows that the existence of a democratic deficit in the EC is widely recognized, not only by political elites and commentators but also by mass public opinion. The evidence also suggests that the institution which ought to be doing most to repair that deficit – the European Parliament – is not succeeding in the task. Only something between a quarter and one‐third of EC citizens have even a minimal understanding of its role, and tend to project on to it their conceptions of their own national legislatures. This factor, together with the persistently low levels of electoral turn‐out in European Parliament elections, indicates that the Parliament is not playing as large a role as it might in assisting the institutionalization of legitimacy.

Keywords: democratic deficit; European Community; European Parliament; legitimacy

Chapter.  10382 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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