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41 J. Common Mkt. Stud. 1 (2003)

handle is hein.journals/jcmks41 and id is 1 raw text is: 

JCMS  2002 Volume 41. Number 1. pp. 1-13

De   la  d6mocratie en Europe:

Old Concepts and New Challenges

European University Institute


Since David Marquand coined his famous phrase 'democratic deficit' to describe the
functioning of the European Community, the debate has raged about the extent and
content of this deficit. However, little attention has been paid to the ambiguous na-
ture of democracy both at the national and supranational levels. This paper argues
that dissatisfaction with democracy has to do, at least for a substantial part, with the
creeping expansion of constitutionalism and the parallel decline of popular impact
on government. This phenomenon  is often felt at the national plane and feeds out-
bursts of populism. But it is even more acute at the European level, which combines
weak popular input with the most sophisticated and developed forms of constitution-
alism. This imbalance should be redressed both at a national level as well as in the
EU, as a nascent polity.


Citizens' lack of confidence in their democratic institutions is not new. Among
the existing democratic systems there have always  been, in some periods or
places, manifestations of dissatisfaction or unhappiness with democracy. The
20-year period  between  the two world  wars  offers a particularly dramatic
illustration: most of the new democracies failed to consolidate and most of
them  had to leave room for authoritarian or fascist regimes. Older democra-
cies were also challenged by  leftist social movements or extreme right and
undemocratic  parties. Even during the rosy period of the 'Trente glorieuses',
dissatisfaction manifested itself in various forms: social movements  of all
kinds, especially amongst the young generation (May  1968), and even the use
of violence and terrorism (in Italy and Germany in particular). However, dur-
ing both  the 1920s-30s  and  the post-war period, these manifestations  of

* This article is a revised version of the JCMS Annual Lecture, delivered on 12 April 2002 at the European
University Institute in Fiesole near Florence.
© Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Sreet, Malden, MA 02148, USA

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