From Paris with Love: A Critique of President Macron’s Democratic Conventions

This paper analyses President Macron’s initiative to hold EU-wide democratic conventions in the run-up to the 2019 EP elections as a method of reviving citizen participation in shaping European integration. The analysis scrutinises the benefits and pitfalls of this initiative and develops a threefold argument. First, while the initiative correctly concentrates on bottom-up democratisation, it runs the risks associated with the possession of expertise, policy complexity and over-simplification, and post-truth politicisation. Second, the conventions create important new linkages between representative and participatory democracy by fostering new roles for parliamentarians in implementing the convention processes. Third, while contributing to input legitimacy, the future viability of conventions is contingent on its ability to inform EU policy making. Finally, the paper discusses the complementarity between the conventions and Citizens’ Dialogues organised by the European Commission.