RECON Report No 13



Political Legitimacy and Democracy in Transnational Perspective

Rainer Forst and Rainer Schmalz-Bruns (eds)

RECON Report No 13

ARENA Report 2/11, Oslo, March 2011


In the words of Jürgen Habermas, and speaking for many contemporary observers, the outcome of the Lisbon Treaty demonstrates the ‘consciously and blatantly elitist and bureaucratic’ character of European politics. Part of this critique is founded on the detached and elite-driven mode of European integration and constitutionalisation, as well as the failure to establish a general democratic agreement on the future shape of the European Union.

The doubts about the unifying processes also express an uncertainty about the sources on which trans- or supranational normative orders can draw. Must the legitimacy of a normative political order rely on democratic procedures or could there be other sources, such as higher-order considerations of economic welfare, legal security, constitutional coordination, political effectiveness or, even more abstract, ‘public reason’ or some notion of material justice? The contributions to this volume address this question - or rather, this host of questions. For even if one believes that the question of political legitimacy must be answered democratically for principled reasons of political autonomy or procedural justice, it is not clear what this would entail at a transnational level or, more concretely, with respect to the EU. And if one believes that other principles and forms of legitimacy are required and valid in transnational contexts such as the EU, a host of normative and institutional issues arises.

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