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Just an illusion? Democratization in the international realm

Democracy is traditionally associated with the nation-state. It hinges on the idea of a delimited demos characterized by a shared sense of identity, a common public sphere, and political institutions like parties and other intermediary organisations that ensure its participation in the political process. Globalization has led to a debordering of political processes, and a reorganization of political authority in the international realm. International governance bodies, such as international organizations (IOs) and transgovernmental networks (TGNs), created to address cross-border challenges have expanded in number, form, and scope. They contribute to “a great increase in the scale of the political system” beyond the nation-state (Dahl 1994: 21, see Schimmelfennig 2010; Zürn 2000). While responding to the changing geography of political problems, this rescaling of the political space poses challenges to the democratic making of political decisions. It constitutes a fundamental dilemma between effectiveness and participation, or between “the ability of the citizens to exercise democratic control over the decisions of the polity versus the capacity of the system to respond satisfactorily to the collective preferences of its citizens” (Dahl 1994: 21). How far can we observe the introduction of democratic principles and institutions in international governance bodies, what explains their adoption – and do these democratic features resonate with citizens’ support of international politics? Our contribution summarizes key results from several research projects within the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Democracy with a focus on “processes of upwards de-nationalisation” (Kübler and Kriesi 2017). We start with a theoretical discussion of the drivers and models of democratization in the international realm. We then focus on two features of international democratization: parliamentarization of IOs and democratic governance in TGNs, and present findings on citizens’ preferences of international politics.

Project Number IP 4: Democratic governance in and through trans-governmental networks
Author(s) Freyburg,Tina; Sandra Lavenex & Frank Schimmelfennig
Series/Publication Swiss Political Science Review 23(3)
Year 2017
Pages 246–252
URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spsr.12266/full
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