Democratic Deficit Theory: A Reversed Approach Why Radical Political Changes in Member States Affect the Quality of Democracy in the EU

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Houssais, Olivia
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Global Campus of Human Rights
The thematic of the democratic deficit has stirred passions and created divisions among scholars, who find no consensus on how to answer it. Too often, the methodological approaches implemented to deal with the democratic problems of the EU either emphasise the procedures only at the EU level or mainly focus on the integration processes. Yet, due to the multilevel framework at stake within the EU area, there is a relationship connection between the domestic and the European levels: what happens nationally influences de facto the EU and its institutions. The aim of this thesis is therefore to propose a revision to the democratic deficit theory, by adopting a reversing approach, which focuses on the evolution of the quality of democracy at both levels. It demonstrates that the radical political changes encountered by the Member States from 2008 to 2018 (Chapter 2) not only jeopardised national democracies, but also led to downward trends in the quality of democracy in these same Member States, thus creating a risk of democratic erosion domestically (Chapter 3). And because of the correlation link between both levels, it is revealed that Member States are the predominant actors in the variation of the EU quality of democracy, namely that their own downward trends negatively influence the EU quality of democracy (Chapter 4). Focusing specifically on the level of the EU quality of democracy is particularly interesting because of the lack of research on the matter. There is however a high need to develop this kind of approach in the field since it allows to underline the democratic issues the EU and its Member States are facing and will have to face. Keywords: Democratic deficit, quality of democracy, erosion of democracy, crisis of democracy, liberal democracy, European Union, political changes, populism, illiberalism, political parties, far-right parties, rule of law, political freedom, political competition
Second semester University: Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest.
democracy, European Union, populism, right-wing extremists, political parties, rule of law, domestic and comparative politics, competition