The aim of this paper is to discuss the democratic implications of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) through the normative prism of the Habermasian deliberative democracy theory. The ECI was introduced into EU law in the Lisbon Treaty, as a tool for citizens to influence EU law-making. Nonetheless, the practice shows that the instrument did not prove to be sufficiently effective. After eight years of operation, only five out of seventy one initiatives have been successful in terms of being admitted by the European Commission. Thus an interesting question which arises here, is how to balance the Commission’s right of legislative initiative and the democratic underpinning of the ECI. This project attempts to look at this issue from the perspective of the deliberative democracy theory as developed by Habermas, with specific focus on sluices as connectors between the periphery and the core of the public sphere, as well as in the broader paradigm of post-national democracy in the EU.
The paper offers a constitutional law interpretation of populism by focusing on the people’s demand for identity instead of trust. Populism claims to be the political form which bridges together rulers and ruled under the paradigm of identity, by refusing any form of power based on trust such as representation or delegation. The paper analyzes then the differences between these two forms of power by referring to the theological concept of Katèkon, re-interpreted by Schmitt as the political form that prevents the dissolution of the existing order. The Katèkon prevents the bellum omnium contra omnes by ensuring an ordered form of power wherein anyone gives back his original (unlimited) power onto the world. It dilutes the natural violence through representation of political instances and trustworthiness of elected representatives, while identity between rulers and ruled deprives the latter of any margin of appreciation or form of action outside the binary dimension of ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
A stable democracy presupposes a well-functioning public sphere, which in turn is strongly linked to the provision of information by pluralistic mass media such as television, radio and press. Only in a polity in which information is freely accessible to the public can the latter make informed decisions and exercise democratic control. Media institutions perform a public role by putting information into context and providing a place for societal debates, thereby influencing the public discourse. Social media has transformed the way we communicate by changing communication from a ‘one-to-many’ structure to a ‘many-to-many’ structure in which essentially every citizen becomes able to distribute information to a wider audience on the internet. This paper discusses how social media impacts the public sphere and proposes regulatory solutions to ensure a pluralistic information landscape as a means of protecting democracy, with a particular focus on EU initiatives in this sense.
In this paper I point attention to the economic regulatory component of the rise of populism in Europe and the challenges it may pose to liberal democracy. A style of populist economic regulation seeks to govern markets in the interest of insiders who are framed as vulnerable to the challenges of economic globalization. The anti-pluralist character of such style of regulation threatens to turn markets illiberal. By conceptualizing this anti-pluralist challenge in market governance, I wish to defend a vision of markets as contributing to the promise of democracy, through their ability to fostering a plurality of options in each sphere of life. In the European context, EU economic law has the potential to make an important contribution to such notion of markets. Viewed in this light, EU economic law can be described not much as an ordo(or neo)-liberal straightjacket, but as offering opportunities for democratization of the economy and society both in Member States and transnationally.