How do we define the democratic deficit?



Well, there are two ways of thinking about the problem.

One is to say that there is a democratic deficit wherever political powers are transferred to EU institutions that are less democratic than national ones. But this presupposes that national institutions do not themselves suffer from democratic deficits.

So, an alternative definition might be that there is a democratic deficit where institutions - European or national - fall short of general principles of democracy. These might include participation, contestation (competition for power), election of political leadership by universal suffrage, accountability and so on. As you probably realise, there is some room for disagreement in establishing a benchmark because there is no uniform concept of democracy: at a very general level we might define it as government that comes under structural pressure to be responsive to the wishes of the public.


Basic Deficit Main