Revisiting democratic principles in highly interconnected settings (like the EU).

Revisiting democratic principles in highly interconnected settings (like the EU).

Wednesday, 1 March 2017 - 12:30pm
Venue: 
European Studies Centre
Speaker(s): 
Simona Piattoni (University of Trento)
Chair: 
Kalypso Nicolaidis (St Antony's College)
Series: 
ESC Lunchtime Seminar

Revisiting democratic principles in highly interconnected settings (like the EU).

The European Union is exposing the problems of contemporary European democracies and forcing us to rethink our very notion of democracy for the ‘changed circumstances of political organization’, that is, for the heightened interconnected context in which we live. The conventional notion of democracy as ‘delegation cum accountability’ no longer describes or justifies the ways in which decisions are democratically made both domestically and at EU level, and is therefore contributing to undermining the legitimacy of policy decisions and of the mechanisms that produce them. Reactions range from appeals for further moves towards EU-centered technocratism to claims for the repatriation of decision-making to (delusively) sovereign nation-states. I rather propose to reassess some of the fundamental traits of the contemporary notion of democracy, focusing my attention particularly on those democratic sinews which appear to be presently faltering. It is my conviction that this deep questioning is all the more necessary as the alternative solutions recalled above no more promise to rescue European democracy than the preservation of the uncomfortable status quo does. I will start from the analysis of the fault-lines of our conventional notion of democracy to propose democratic mechanisms that bear the promise of lending our democracies greater ‘haptic’ qualities, in particular the qualities of openness and dialogue across borders. A discussion of the notion of hapticity – derived from architectural theory – will clarify my approach.

 

Simona Piattoni (BA/MA Economics, Bocconi, PhD Political Science, MIT) is Professor of Political Science at the University of Trento (Italy) and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Agder (Norway), having previously taught also at the universities of Tromsø (Norway) and Innsbruck (Austria). She has been Chair of the Executive Committee of the ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research, 2012-15) and is currently President of SISP (Società Italiana di Scienza Politica, 2015-18). Her research interests range from clientelism and corruption (Clientelism, Interests and Democratic Representation. The European Experience in Historical and Comparative Perspective, CUP 2001) to multilevel and informal governance (Informal Governance in the European Union, edited with T. Christiansen, Edward Elgar 2003; The Theory of Multi-Level Governance, OUP 2010). Her more recent research has centered on the reconceptualization of democracy in interconnected settings (The European Union: Democratic Principles and Institutional Architectures in Times of Crisis, edited OUP 2015; Shaping Policy from Below: The Committee of the Regions and European Democracy, with J. Schönlau, Edward Elgar 2015).