Chapter

Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union

Jacques Thomassen and Hermann Schmitt

in Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union

Published in print June 1999 | ISBN: 9780198296614
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600227 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198296614.003.0001
 Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union

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Offers brief definitions of political representation and legitimacy: the former is loosely defined as the concept of representative democracy, including both the institutions of responsible government and the process of political representation, i.e. the political process by which the making of government policy is related to the wants, needs, and demands of the public; the latter is defined as the belief that the existing political order is right. Four sections follow, the first of which tries to explain what is meant by political representation and legitimacy in the context of the EU. The next two sections explore the concepts of legitimacy and political representation in greater detail; these sections include outlines of the later chapters on these subjects in Parts I and II of the book, respectively. The section on political representation introduces the three main models of representative democracy: the Responsible Party Model (a coercive model in which political representatives are forced to take the policy preferences of the electorate into account at the penalty of being voted out of office); the intergovernmental model (which involves national systems of political representation); and the federal model (which operates at a European rather than a national level). Despite various caveats, the Responsible Party Model is viewed as a useful benchmark. The final section of the introduction briefly discusses the research design on which the book is based and notes that it is part of the publication programme of the European Representation Study 1994.

Keywords: electorate; European Representation Study; EU; federal model; intergovernmental model; legitimacy; policy preferences; political representation; representative democracy; Responsible Party Model

Chapter.  6767 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European Union

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