Political representation and legitimacy in the European Union

Hermann Schmitt, Jacques J.A. Thomassen (Editor)

    Research output: Book/ReportBookAcademic


    How severe a problem is what many call the ‘democratic deficit’ of the EU? Despite a voluminous theoretical literature dealing with this question, there is hardly any systematic empirical investigation of the effectiveness of the system of political representation in the EU, and of the legitimacy beliefs of EU citizens that spring from it. This book elaborates a conceptual framework for the empirical analysis of the alleged democratic deficit. Four dimensions of legitimacy beliefs are identified and analysed: the European political community; the scope of EU government; the institutions and processes of EU government; and EU policies. Based upon large-scale representative surveys (the ‘European Representation Study’) among the mass publics, and different strata of the political elite of the EU and its member-states, the book examines the conditions of political representation in the EU. The results demonstrate, by and large, that legitimacy beliefs of EU citizens are the more positive the less specific the object of identification and evaluations is, and that the process of political representation works pretty well as long as issues other than EU issues are concerned. These findings are finally discussed in view of familiar strategies for institutional reform of the EU. The book is arranged in two main parts: I. Legitimacy (4 Chs) and II. Representation ( 6Chs); it also has an introduction, a conclusion, and an appendix giving details of the European Representation Study. The book is one of two companion volumes that report on the results of this study. The other is The European Parliament, the National Parliaments, and European Integration (edited by Richard S. Katz and Bernhard Wessels), and is also published by OUP.
    Original languageUndefined
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages310
    ISBN (Print)0198296614
    Publication statusPublished - 1999

    Publication series

    PublisherOxford University Press


    • METIS-100784
    • European Representation Study
    • European political community
    • Democratic deficit
    • Institutional reform
    • Legitimacy
    • EU
    • EU government
    • Political representation
    • institutions of EU government
    • processes of EU government
    • scope of EU government
    • IR-2813

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