The discursive legitimation strategies of the President of the Commission: a qualitative content analysis of the State of the Union addresses (SOTEU)

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Series Details Volume 40, Number 7, Pages 853-871
Publication Date November 2018
ISSN 0703-6337 (print) | 1477-2280 (online)
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In this work, we investigate the way in which the two latest Presidents of the Commission have tackled the question of the legitimacy of the EU in the delivery of the State of the Union Addresses (SOTEU).

Our analysis, based on a qualitative content analysis of the SOTEU speeches, identifies a marked difference in the discursive legitimation strategies employed by the two Presidents and in the conception of the legitimacy of the EU that they promote.

In Barroso’s speeches, the legitimazing principle recalls the classical functionalist interpretation of the ‘rationality’ of the EU decisions mainly in terms of economic outputs, whilst the underlying conception of legitimacy that shapes Juncker’s speeches recalls an input-based understanding of legitimacy as democracy and popular sovereignty.

By way of conclusion, we argue that the introduction of the Spitzencandidaten system has been instrumental in providing the two Presidents with a different discursive opportunity structure.

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