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Module 1: Expanding democratic governance in the international realm

Democracy promotion is an issue that has risen to the top of the policy agenda in the West in the past decades. This research module explored the challenges of democratization along two dimensions:

  • How democracy can be extended horizontally, i.e. to regions that have never experienced a consolidated democracy
  • Whether democracy can be extended vertically to international and supranational institutions such as the European Union (EU) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

On the horizontal level, the hope is to extend democracy into unstable regions and thus to reinforce their stability. The key challenge is to deploy strategies of democracy promotion without destabilizing the fragile foundations of stability even further. Two projects dealt with the spreading of democracy to other regions:

  • IP 2 investigated the conditions under which a multi-level actor such as the EU can export democracy and “good governance” to its “near abroad”, i.e. its adjacent states that cannot be absorbed as full members.
  • IP 3 examined under which conditions democratization of troubled regions leads to conflict and war.   
On the vertical level, political authority is shifting from nation-states to an increasingly dense web of international and supranational institutions. This shift increases the pressure on these organizations to conform to democratic, or at least more legitimate, principles of governance. Three projects adressed the vertical dimension:
  • IP 1 analyzed the problems of democratic and legitimate governance within the context of the WTO.
  • IP 20 analyzed whether a European-wide democratic electorate and party system in the EU has formed and aimed to identify the conditions that lead to the creation of a European-wide democratic citizenship, an important prerequisite for strengthening legitimacy and democracy in the EU.
  • IP 21 seeked to identify the fundamental elements and principles of a just and democratic system of international cooperation and applied them to the EU and the WTO in order to assess their institutional achievements, deficits and potential for further democratization.
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