Reconciling Militant Democracy and Popular Self-Government

Looking at the general trend in normative scholarship on militant democracy, the traditional model of militant democracy appears increasingly outdated. ‘Neo-militant’ scholars engage very critically with the legitimacy costs of constraining anti-democratic actors. Another key difference with regard to militant democracy’s historical roots is that more recent accounts are departing from a deep scepticism of popular sovereignty and emotionalism, instead being supportive rather than sceptical of popular self-government via open, democratic procedures. This is a positive first step towards reconciling militant democracy and its prima facie restrictive nature with the inherently aspirational, dynamic and forward-looking character of democracy as a form of government. In this regard, a crucial question is how to reconceive militant democracy, both at the national and the EU-level, for it to have an enabling rather than restrictive or patronising effect on democratic self-government.