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Representation in the EU and beyond: one of a kind or not so unique after all?

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Vileyn, Matthias

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Abstract In federal polities citizens have multiple public identities: they are addressed as members of the federal polity and as members of a sub-federal polity. Consequently, citizens are represented at the federal level through two channels of democratic representation: federal representation and sub-federal representation. Although this is a crucial element in the set-up of a federal system, the existing literature on representation hardly touches upon this and hence we introduce an approach to systematically compare these channels of representation. In this paper we conceptualize and operationalize the new concepts and apply our approach to democratic representation in 13 federal polities, including the EU, EU member states and non-EU member states. Our analysis shows that the EU has the highest degree of sub-federal representation (i.e. representation of the member states), but also shows that the EU stands not alone among federal polities. Belgium, Canada and Switzerland are clearly characterized by a high level of sub-federal representation as well, while countries such as the US and Australia are much more based upon federal representation. We also show that the variance between the countries can be understood by looking at the systemic features of the states.
Keywords federalism; democracy; legitimacy; political system; federal state; EU
Classification Political System, Constitution, Government
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 1-23
Journal Federal Governance, 11 (2014) 1
ISSN 1923-6158
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence