9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Political Theory Building I, 2E10

Legitimacy and representation in the EU. From representative to participative democracy?

Legitimacy and representation in the EU. From representative to participative democracy?

The EU has always been characterized by a legitimacy deficit due to the weakness of political representation respect to the role played by interest groups. The Parliament, the only institution which derives its legitimacy from popular elections, has a lower power respect to the Council and above all respect to the Commission.
This gap has been in part filled up with the participation of civil society to the decision making processes. This implies the passage from a representative democracy to a participative democracy, widely supported by the Commission.
The paper will focus on the following aspects:

1. Political representation in the EU. Classical theories of representation focus on the role of elections and on the relationship existing between citizens and their representatives. In this framework the Parliament has the monopoly of representing the general interest in public deliberation.

2. The participation of civil society to the decision making process poses some questions about its legitimacy. The several associations, interest groups, NGO, lobbies working in Brussels represent only a part of the European society. Is civil society equally widespread all over the territory of the European Union? Are all the interests represented in it? What's the border between traditional lobbying and civil dialogue?

3. The Treaties and the official document talk about organized civil society (Treaty of Nice; EESC). Can we organize civil society? Is civil society a democratic one? How can we legitimize civil society?