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IP 2: Internationalization and representative democracy

The democracy deficit of international institutions and how to achieve democratization and legitimacy at the international level are central topics in contemporary world politics. It is commonly assumed that policy making on the international level undermines representative democracy as political power is not exercised through elected representatives: there is no world government that is accountable to an elected global parliament and no global demos. But can democracy develop outside the confines of the nation-state, in international organizations (IOs) or bodies like the EU?

In fact, one can detect democratization trends in the international context: parliaments or parliamentary bodies have been introduced into IOs, and national parliaments are adapting to international policy-making in their search to retain monitoring and control functions in a globalized world. The aim of this research project is to investigate the extent and determinants of these two parliamentarization processes in international policy-making; processes which have not yet received much scholarly attention:

First, the project will map and explain the existence of representative institutions in IOs; institutions such as parliaments or other types of assemblies consisting of either directly elected members or direct delegates of elected national parliaments. It will measure the IOs’ parliaments’ powers over decision-making, the budget, and executive officials.

Second, it will examine the role national parliaments play in international policy-making. This part of the research will focus on the EU, which provides a rich testing ground due to the high number of decision-making processes. The researchers will analyze how and why national parliaments use their formal powers to become involved in EU decision-making.

Third, the researchers will explore the question of whether there is a connection between parliamentarization and the legitimacy of IOs. Does the parliamentarization of IOs influence the way in which their legitimacy is perceived by individuals and the media?

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Project leaders:
Prof. Francis Cheneval, University of Zurich
Prof. Frank Schimmelfennig, ETH Zurich

Postdoctoral researcher:
Dr. Thomas Winzen, ETH Zurich

PhD student:
Jofre Rocabert, ETH Zurich