Direct Democracy in the EU – The Myth of a Citizens’ Union

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Publication Date November 2018
ISBN 978-1-78660-999-1
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The European Union has a democracy problem. The polycrisis that has plagued the EU for years has led to a cacophony of voices calling for fundamental change to the integration project. Yet despite the shock of the Brexit referendum and the electoral upsets caused by nativist parties across the continent, few of the plans for EU reform include concrete proposals to address the perennial democratic deficit.

This book looks at how the relationship between citizens, the state and EU institutions has changed in a multi-layered Union. As such, it focuses more on polity than on populism, and does not engage deeply with policy or output legitimacy. Building on the notion of increasing social, economic and political interdependence across borders, this book asks whether a sense of solidarity and European identity can be rescued from the bottom up by empowering citizens to ‘take back control’ of their Union.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction | Steven Blockmans & Sophia Russack
  • Part 1 | EU-level Mechanisms
    • Pathways for Citizens to Engage in EU Policymaking | Sophia Russack
  • Part 2 | Transversal Aspects & Thematic Issues
    • Europe's Conventions Démocratiques | Dídac Gutiérrez-Peris, Pol Morillas & Héctor Sánchez Margalef
    • CivTech: The Digital Revolution in Democracy and Decision-Making | Wojciech Białożyt & Arkadiuszn Legieć
    • A New Narrative for Europe: Who will Listen? | Nikoleta Vasileva & Borislav Mavrov
    • Civil Society in EU Decision-Makinf: A Latvian case study | Rasmuss Filips Geks
  • Part 3 | Country Reports
    • Direct Democracy in Austria: just a tool for the opposition? | Stefan Schaller, Paul Schmidt & Christoph Breinschmid
    • Direct Democracy and the Populist Zeitgeist: Bulgaria | Daniel Smilov & Antoinette Primatarova
    • Czechia Direct Democracy: From the Shadows to the Limelight | Jan Kovář, Petr Kratochvíl & Zdeněk Sychra
    • Denmark and Direct Democracy: Frontrunner and Laggard | Catharina Sørensen
    • Finland: Direct Democracy and the Representational System | Juha Jokela & Tuomas Iso-Markku
    • Direct Democracy in Germany | Erik Brandes, Nicolai von Ondarza & Felix Schenuit
    • Mobilising for Democracy during Austerity in Greece | Filippa Chatzistavrou
    • Engaged but Disempowered: Italians Experience Direct Democracy | Eleonora Poli
    • The Europeanisation of Latvia's Direct Democracy: Not There Yet | Kārlis Bukovskis & Elizabete Vizgunova
    • Politics, Ideology and Voter Apathy: Direct Democracy in Poland | Jacek Kucharczyk
    • The Untapped Potential of Direct Democracy in Romania | Mihai Sebe & Eliza Vaș
    • Direct Democracy and the EU in Slovakia: Looking Beyond the Referendum | Vladimír Bilčík
    • Spain: No Country for Direct Democracy? | Javier Lorente
    • Does Direct Democracy Work in the UK? | Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska & Beth Oppenheim
  • Part 4 | Conclusions
    • Getting Europe's Direct Democracy Right | Richard Youngs
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