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Mixed representation and legitimacy in the European Union
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2007 (English)In: Journal of European Integration, ISSN 0703-6337, Vol. 29, 285-302 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A central critique against the European Union's (EU's) system of representation is that it strikes an uneven balance between the three traditional channels of representation. Directly elected representatives are said to be uniquely powerless in relation to territorial representatives and representatives of organized interests. In the article, this argument is scrutinized within a comparative framework, using a selection of existing data on democratic systems from around the world. The study confirms that the EU's system of representation attributes great importance to territorial representation. However, the main finding is that it is not unique in this regard. Moreover, organized interests at the European level do not seem exceptionally powerful, in terms of their capacity to act collectively to influence policy. These findings are interpreted in the light of current research on the EU's legitimacy, resulting in two additional conclusions. While the EU's formal legitimacy would be enhanced by a push towards electoral politics at the European level, its social legitimacy hinges on a continued existence of territorial representation. Striking the proper balance between channels of representation at the European level stands out as a future challenge to researchers and political actors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2007. Vol. 29, 285-302 p.
Keyword [en]
mixed representation; European Union; electoral politics; bicameralism; organized interests; legitimacy
National Category
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-26723DOI: 10.1080/07036330701442281OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-26723DiVA: diva2:54590
Available from: 2008-10-17 Created: 2008-10-17 Last updated: 2016-01-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Political Representation in the European Union: A Multi-Channel Approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Political Representation in the European Union: A Multi-Channel Approach
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The European Union (EU) is the most far-reaching attempt yet undertaken to institutionalize democratic policy-making beyond the nation-state. To what extent, and in what ways, do various channels of representation contribute towards the realization of this aim? This dissertation takes stock of current research on the EU’s system of representation, and seeks to expand its agenda so that this central question can be properly addressed. In contrast to prior empirical work in the field, the dissertation employs research designs that incorporate several forms of representation into a unified evaluative framework. This multi-channel approach to political representation paves the way for a systematic comparison of how different forms of representation (electoral, territorial and corporate) perform in the EU context. It also makes possible an empirical assessment of a key proposition in current representation theory: that elections, in large and heterogeneous political systems, are outperformed by other forms of representation.

The three articles in the dissertation draw on existing cross-country data, interviews with policy-makers and a new dataset collected by the author. They scrutinize representation in three principal channels: electoral representation in the European Parliament, government representation in the preparatory bodies of the Council of Ministers, and representation through organized interests that seek to influence EU policy. The first article examines the balance of power that has emerged between these three channels of representation in the EU’s legislative process, and how the current balance is likely to affect the Union’s legitimacy. The second article investigates how different channels of representation perform in terms of providing linkage between Brussels-based representatives and their domestic principals. The third article examines the extent to which different channels of representation contribute to the coordination of EU policy-making domestically, at the European level, and across the two levels of government.

Finally, this dissertation makes a methodological contribution by applying social network analysis (SNA) to classic problems of representation within and across different channels of representation. This approach is novel to the field. Researchers should be able to exploit SNA and relational data fruitfully in the future, in the study of representational relationships in the EU and numerous other contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 70 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 120
political representation, EU, multi-channel approach, European Parliament, Council of Ministers, interest representation, linkage, Services Directive, social-network analysis, coordination
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-267106 (URN)978-91-554-9412-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-01-14, Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-12-18 Created: 2015-11-18 Last updated: 2016-01-13

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