Why does the E.U suffer from a democratic deficit?

Whilst the E.U is not wholly undemocratic it is clearly far less democratic than most parliamentary systems. The main ways in which it lacks democracy include:

1. The lack of any election for the government of the E.U- the Commission.
2. The fact that Commissioners are pointed by the government of the nation state and not the parliament.
3. The lack of power for the E.U Parliament to legislate; and
4. The opaque nature of the very large bureaucracy.

It seems to me that the reason for this is the feared "Eurovision" effect. Whilst the western European states have the financial power the eastern European states have the potential to form a voting bloc and elect a government that the western states might not like.

If this is the main reason why the E.U lacks democracy then it raises the question as to why the E.U took steps to integrate more closely at a time that the trust levels were not yet high enough to sustain a democratic structure. The lack of democracy would not be a problem if member states were only governed by E.U law to a minimal extent. Surely then the problems that the E.U is now facing, in Britain, Greece, Italy etc are due to premature integration.

I'm not suggesting here that integration was not a long term possibility but it seems to me that the test as to whether or not to integrate more closely is whether or not a democratic structure could be installed to govern the same.

People will say that the the E.U's problems are due to immigration, austerity and the like but this is missing the point. It would be much easier for the E.U to respond to such issues if it were led by a popular, democratic government consisting of skilled, professional politicians and a transparent civil service.
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Comments

  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Your proposals would effectively make the EU a federal state. I think the main reason why they're not happening is because a lot of people are squeamish about that.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Well, the UK is scarcely a brilliant example of democracy with it's strange combination of members of one house elected by a first-past-the-post system, and the members of the other either government appointed (the bishops and life peers) of by inheritance.

    Then your last paragraph has several oddities - skilled and professional politicians, then a transparent (a buzz-word there) civil service. Quite what do you mean by these?
  • I think the modern world tests democracy to its limits.

    Life is just incredibly complex and the details of much of what keeps us going are so counterintuitive. It's hard to imagine dealing with this without technocrats. The mantra of Brexit was "we've had enough of experts". This goes down well with voters but the outcome has proved just how important those experts are.

    Most people simply don't have the time or capacity to absorb all this complexity. I'm sure that fuels the rise of populism. As we have also seen, social media and fake news can easily be exploited to pervert democracy.

    In Europe there are also deep cultural differences and I repeat my contention that these go a long way to explaining Brexit. The French love grand ideas and lofty ideals; the British are pragmatists. I've seen both sides and come to accept that both approaches have their pros and cons.

    Here in France Macron's government is pretty much unopposed and he is getting an impessive number of reforms through compared to his predecessors, precisely because he is unopposed and a technocrat. I worry about the long-term threat to democracy of this single-party state but then I think it's what France needs right now. And prime minister Edouard Philippe does I think do a very good job of explaining the reforms.
  • LeRoc wrote: »
    Your proposals would effectively make the EU a federal state.
    Indeed. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it certainly isn't where we are.

    At present the EU has a "democratic deficit" largely because it's not a government, it's a treaty organisation. To move towards a more democratic EU would mean that members would cease to be sovereign nations. The European Parliament would become a law making body, superseding national governments. The Commission would become a full-blown European civil service and need to be massively enlarged (at present it is far too small a body - much smaller than the national civil services of most EU nations - about 35,000 people cf: UK over 400,000 people). There would also need to be a much more formal set of alliances between political parties between nations, because without a small number of aligned parties (with a single leader, common manifesto for EU elections) there would be no means of forming a government from MEPs, even by consensus coalitions.

  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    I think part of the 'democratic deficit' is a result of shifting the goalposts, and taking the nation-state as being natural and magical.

    We don't directly elect the chancellor (fill in appropriate post for the state) either. There doesn't seem to much of a difference between the democratic principle of the prime minister appointing say the Foreign Secretary or the American Ambassador and the prime minister appointing a EU commissioner.

    The directly elected EU parliament does vote on the full set of the commission. I don't have a say in 99% of the members (and my votes are only in the whole of the East Midlands), but then I don't have a say in 99% of the HoCommons (and given FPTP in fact my MP doesn't represent me, whereas almost certainly one of my MEP's does).
    One actual distinction is that I know who my local MP is and which way he voted today (at least I can guess), whereas I've no idea what my MEPs did or who they are. But really that's my fault for not paying attention.

    In fact I can partially fix that now
    There was a vote on the adoption of rules relating to aerospace. The 2 Tory's and Labour voted to accept, the 2 Ukip turned up! and voted against.
    recorded here
  • Yeah, as others have said the EU isn't more democratic because the governments of the member states prefer that the power to pick commissioners (for example) resides with them. I would, of course, note that in the UK we don't get to elect the cabinet or PM either. We certainly didn't choose to have a bunch of reactionary theocrats propping up the government.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host, 8th Day Host
    Makepeace wrote: »
    People will say that the the E.U's problems are due to immigration, austerity and the like but this is missing the point. It would be much easier for the E.U to respond to such issues if it were led by a popular, democratic government consisting of skilled, professional politicians and a transparent civil service.

    I think the one thing we need less of today is "professional politicians". We need people who are prepared to represent their consituents, with professional advisors.

    I think it would be much easier if the UK were led by a popular, democratic government, who were committed to the EU, and seeking change for the better of Europe.
  • I would, of course, note that in the UK we don't get to elect the cabinet or PM either.

    They do all have to be elected in their constituencies though. It's not like the government could just recruit anyone they like into the cabinet.
    We certainly didn't choose to have a bunch of reactionary theocrats propping up the government.

    Yeah, we kinda did. We voted for the various parties in such a way that a Tory/DUP coalition was capable of forming a government.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited June 13
    They do all have to be elected in their constituencies though. It's not like the government could just recruit anyone they like into the cabinet.
    Frank Cousins, Patrick Gordon Walker (1964) and Peter Mandelson (2008) all beg to differ.

    In France cabinet ministers don't have to be elected, either. Emmanuel Macron served thus as Finance Minister under Hollande. The first public office he was ever elected to was President.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    I would, of course, note that in the UK we don't get to elect the cabinet or PM either.

    They do all have to be elected in their constituencies though. It's not like the government could just recruit anyone they like into the cabinet.
    I believe that in the past the Prime Minister has been a member of the House of Lords, and I believe that there's no reason beyond convention that that cannot still happen. There's even less bar with ministers: there were IIRC members of the House of Lords in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet.
    I'm not even sure whether the Prime Minister has to hold any seat in Parliament. It's possible that the main bar is that the consistutions of the major parties require their party leaders to be MPs.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I would, of course, note that in the UK we don't get to elect the cabinet or PM either.

    They do all have to be elected in their constituencies though. It's not like the government could just recruit anyone they like into the cabinet.

    That's happened many times in the past in the UK. The PM wants X to be a minister, but X has not been elected to any constituency. X is given a life peerage and the problem is solved. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than the system by which Canadians become Senators.
  • Or, the party parachutes the person they want in the Cabinet to stand in a very safe seat.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    An example of this was the "election" of the first leader of the Welsh Assembly. He was a desperately unpopular man, and in serious danger of failing to win any seat he stood for. There's a tradition in Wales of Labour losing rock-solid constituencies and council wards out of grudges, stupidity and animosity. The Labour hierarchy therefore put him on the top of the "top up list" for the region in which Labour would not win constituency seats, but would garner enough votes to get one or two top-up seats. Sure enough he got in, illustrating the evils of the party list system.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    We certainly didn't choose to have a bunch of reactionary theocrats propping up the government.

    That's probably the nicest way I have heard the DUP described for many years.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    It's not like the government could just recruit anyone they like into the cabinet.
    Eutychus already talked about France, but I think in most of continental Europe they can.
  • I would, of course, note that in the UK we don't get to elect the cabinet or PM either.

    They do all have to be elected in their constituencies though. It's not like the government could just recruit anyone they like into the cabinet.
    We certainly didn't choose to have a bunch of reactionary theocrats propping up the government.

    Yeah, we kinda did. We voted for the various parties in such a way that a Tory/DUP coalition was capable of forming a government.

    Well in that case we elected the European Commission - we elected governments across the EU in such a way that the set of commissioners we have were agreed, and elected the parliament so that they were approved.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Makepeace, I don't agree with you that the EU is quite as undemocratic as you seem to be suggesting. It could be a lot more so. At root, it is an association of states. It's the states themselves that are supposed to decide how democratic they want to be - though there is a minimal level that is a precondition of membership. The more unusual feature structurally is that it contains an aspect of direct voting by citizens of the participating states. As such, that makes it more democratic than it might have been.

    Because it is an association of states, not citizens, its member states are very unlikely to go very far down any route which might make its directly elected organs able to dictate to governments of the member states, either directly or through the Council, or to enable MEPs to present themselves as having a better mandate than the government of any member state.


    Besides, as Gee D has pointed out, the UK is no shining example of democracy. In practice, it suffers from a really marked democratic deficit. Although it's the House of Lords that looks odd, any deficit arising from that is in practice pretty theoretical. In my lifetime, when it has intervened, it's almost invariably been in an attempt to mitigate some of the deficit. It's actually the way the House of Commons is elected, the asynchronic structure of devolution and that local government has no constitutional status at all which is what leaves a lot of us feeling that our constitution has become a limping failure.


    And don't get me going on the shortcomings of the US Constitution.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Enoch I did refer to the continued use of the first-past-the-post system of voting, but there are several other deficits. The easiest is that election day should be a day when most people are not heading off to work. Going with that is the need to keep booths open for a good length of time. Add in compulsory voting and complete independence for the body organising and counting, distributing and defining electorates and so forth, and you'll be getting somewhere.

    As to your point about the exercise of power by the House of Lords - I know that since the Parliament Act 1911 the power is basically one to delay, but then look at history of the latest Brexit legislation.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Gee D, polling stations here open at 6 am and close at 10 pm. Also, it's fairly easy to get a postal vote. So holding elections on a working day isn't an issue. They're normally held on Thursdays. That's not a deficit. Holding them on a Sunday as some other countries do, would cause far more problems. The arguments about whether voting should be compulsory, which seems to be a peculiar Australian fad and which most other nations regard as itself an illiberal intrusion into personal freedom, has been aired frequently on these boards and is only a deficit if you are Australian.

    The way constituencies are mapped here isn't under direct political control and isn't usually the issue here that it is in some other countries.

    Speaking from inside, rather than outside and far away, the biggest deficits are the ways the first past the post system corrupts and has infected the whole political process and the absence of any proper, rational, consistent and uniform subsidiarity. Unless and until both of these are dealt with properly, which is never likely to happen, I for one feel no obligation to do more than comply with, rather than respect, the actions of successive administrations.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    So holding elections on a working day isn't an issue. (...) Holding them on a Sunday as some other countries do, would cause far more problems.
    Same in my country.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    Although it's the House of Lords that looks odd, any deficit arising from that is in practice pretty theoretical. In my lifetime, when it has intervened, it's almost invariably been in an attempt to mitigate some of the deficit.

    I'd be slightly wary about this statement - things that are held together by convention in this way are ripe for exploiting when some party decides that there is no consequence for ignoring convention [the present situation in both the UK and US are replete with examples of this].
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    I was not aware just how long the polls were open - the only information I could find suggested 10 am to 6 pm. Thanks for that bit of information.

    I disagree that compulsory voting is a fad. It ensures that the overall result is that sought by a very large proportion of voters - as evidenced by the percentage of those eligible voting and the small number of informal votes. People grow up expecting to vote and do so, quite unlike the large numbers of those not voting in the UK snd the US for example.

    You're quite right about the defects of first-past-the-post.Either preferential or proportional voting is much more likely to produce a result which shows either the choice of votes of those with whom they are least dissatisfied.
  • With average voter turnout at around 65-70% for general elections, the system of voting all day on Thursday (with postal and proxy options as needed) seems to be working quite well in the UK. There are, of course, some constituencies where turnout is much lower which seems to map with how much difference people think their vote makes - both very safe seats where you know who's getting in regardless of how you vote, and also areas of considerable deprivation where politicians (along with basically anyone else in authority) are (often quite justifiably) held in contempt as unconcerned and unconnected to the people. The first issue could be addressed by a more representative voting system. The second will take a lot of work addressing the needs of deprived communities, having people stand for election who can genuinely represent them and having politicians who are not generally seen as self-serving and disinterested in the needs of most people.

    Turn out at local elections is generally very poor. Which is I believe a reflection of a massive democratic deficit at local level (as Enoch put it "the absence of any proper, rational, consistent and uniform subsidiarity"). In comparison to most other nations (in Europe at least) the UK has a relatively small number of local councillors per unit population, is probably one level of government short, and local government is relatively powerless. A major revamp of the system (which I see no chance of happening) would introduce local government at a smaller scale (so, for example where I am rather than a council covering all of South Lanarkshire have smaller councils for each of the towns or rural districts therein) which local people could more easily relate to, with an additional regional scale (again, in my example here a reintroduction of a Strathclyde council) as well as the national government in Holyrood and the Imperial Colonial power based in Westminster (:wink:). Added to which those local and regional governments would have genuine devolved powers to be able to actually do something for their communities rather than just enact policy from on high. Without that local elections will always be seen by many people as a waste of time: why spend the time voting for a local government to supply social care, schools, and mend the roads when their ability to do that is severely restricted by the national government?
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    The main democratic deficit is not, IMO, that the means of determining representation is unfair but that once in parliament/congress/council chamber/whatever the reps plainly do not act in the interests of the people. Business and corporate interests come first and they hamstring central government with threats of "economic damage" for policies that are not overtly pro-business. This applies particularly in the USA and UK but in most of the supposed Westernised democracies too. Scandinavia, the Netherlands and possibly France don't fall for this to the same extent, but it is the main democratic deficit.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    sionisais wrote: »
    Scandinavia, the Netherlands and possibly France don't fall for this to the same extent, but it is the main democratic deficit.
    Mwah, not so sure about the Netherlands. We just gave a big tax break to Shell at the cost of higher health co-payments.
  • balaambalaam Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    I would, of course, note that in the UK we don't get to elect the cabinet or PM either.

    They do all have to be elected in their constituencies though. It's not like the government could just recruit anyone they like into the cabinet.

    That's happened many times in the past in the UK. The PM wants X to be a minister, but X has not been elected to any constituency. X is given a life peerage and the problem is solved. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than the system by which Canadians become Senators.

    X does not need to belong to either house, but it is common practice in recent years to give peerages.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Interesting. When was the last time a minister did not have a seat in either house please?
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Interesting. When was the last time a minister did not have a seat in either house please?

    October 1964, Harold Wilson appointed Frank Cousins as Minister of Technology - he was elected MP for Nuneaton in the January 1965 by election. In the same cabinet, Patrick Gordon Walker (who had been an MP since 1945 but lost his seat in the 1964 general election) was appointed Foreign Secretary and resigned after failing to win the Leyton by election of January 1965.

    Before that you need to go back to war cabinets, which may be unusual circumstances and hence not count.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Interesting. When was the last time a minister did not have a seat in either house please?

    October 1964, Harold Wilson appointed Frank Cousins as Minister of Technology - he was elected MP for Nuneaton in the January 1965 by election. In the same cabinet, Patrick Gordon Walker (who had been an MP since 1945 but lost his seat in the 1964 general election) was appointed Foreign Secretary and resigned after failing to win the Leyton by election of January 1965.

    Before that you need to go back to war cabinets, which may be unusual circumstances and hence not count.

    I'd forgotten Patrick Gordon Walker (strange how he was always known as such, never as just Walker). The same with Cousins. I cannot think of any similar occurrence here at Federal level or in NSW - perhaps other states as well.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Since Ministers exercise their authority on behalf of Parliament and are accountable to it, it would be a constitutional nonsense for them to get away with not sitting in either house. If that were not so, doubtless governments would be very happy to make themselves immune to criticism by escaping having to defend themselves there.

    In both those instances that have been cited, the minister was expected to have a seat in one or the other house as soon as possible. When Patrick Gordon Walker failed to get elected, therefore, he had to resign as Foreign Secretary.

    This is one of a number of reasons why the US constitution looks so odd to those of us who are used to the Westminster model.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    Since Ministers exercise their authority on behalf of Parliament and are accountable to it, it would be a constitutional nonsense for them to get away with not sitting in either house. If that were not so, doubtless governments would be very happy to make themselves immune to criticism by escaping having to defend themselves there.
    In most European countries, Ministers can't be members of Parliament, but are called to Parliament by its members so they can oversee their policies.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Enoch, it's the difference between a parliamentary system and a presidential one. I'm not sure that LeRoc's comment that the presidential one is that of "most European countries" but it is of many, and IIRC most African, and American ones. Asian ones are more evenly mixed. Of course, it would be difficult to have the presidential style in a country where your head of state is born to the role and the population has no say* in who is to hold the position. My own preference is for a parliamentary democracy along the lines of that in Germany, but we're still stuck with a monarchy.

    *(Let's be honest, you can try to get rid of the incumbent if you wish, but then the successor simply inherits it.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Adding that the French is both parliamentary and presidential, specifically designed by de Gaulle to give him most of the control but to continue much of the parliamentary system.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    I'm not sure that LeRoc's comment that the presidential one is that of "most European countries"
    I didn't talk about presidential systems?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Not by name, but it's very hard to imagine a system where ministers can't be members of the legislature and not be a presidential one. Any examples would be interesting please.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    The Netherlands and Belgium are examples, I believe.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thanks
  • A major revamp of the system (which I see no chance of happening) would introduce local government at a smaller scale (so, for example where I am rather than a council covering all of South Lanarkshire have smaller councils for each of the towns or rural districts therein) which local people could more easily relate to,

    I agree about the lack of power locally, but does South Lanarkshire not have community councils like Argyll and Bute does? We've got 56 across the authority, around 1 per 1500 people, though obviously there's a big difference between the community councils of Coll and Helensburgh.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    I disagree that compulsory voting is a fad. It ensures that the overall result is that sought by a very large proportion of voters - as evidenced by the percentage of those eligible voting and the small number of informal votes.
    It does mean that people questioning the government's decisions do count the people who didn't vote as part of the percentage of voters who didn't vote for the government. I'm not sure that's fair, except perhaps as a rejoinder when the popular press is pontificating about the Will of the People.
  • No, our only elected representatives are South Lan councillors, MSPs, MPs and MEPs. There are voluntary local community groups, but these are campaign/social organisations rather than any form of government - and depend on enough people in an area having the time and inclination to be involved.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Turn out at local elections is generally very poor. Which is I believe a reflection of a massive democratic deficit at local level (as Enoch put it "the absence of any proper, rational, consistent and uniform subsidiarity").
    I think it's probably more to do with the dominance of national or even international media over local media. It's difficult to care about local councillors when most political reporting is about the leadership of the national parties.

  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Not by name, but it's very hard to imagine a system where ministers can't be members of the legislature and not be a presidential one. Any examples would be interesting please.
    The Netherlands for sure. In the Netherlands we don't have a presidential system. But ministers can't be members of parliament.

    What happens quite often, is that rather shortly after the elections, the MPs are sworn in. But to form a government (which in our case is always a coalition) takes longer, months even. After this is done, some of the persons the coalition parties appoint as ministers are usually among those MPs. These people then have to leave parliament, and other MPs (of the same party) are sworn in in their place. Other ministers come from outside (from academia or from business for example). They also become ministers without being in parliament.

    I'd need to check, but my impression was always that this was the case in all continental European monarchies.

    For me, this is logical. An important job for parliament is to check on ministers. If ministers would be part of parliament, they'd be checking on themselves.
  • No, our only elected representatives are South Lan councillors, MSPs, MPs and MEPs. There are voluntary local community groups, but these are campaign/social organisations rather than any form of government - and depend on enough people in an area having the time and inclination to be involved.

    I think you might be mistaken:
    http://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/info/200168/getting_involved_in_your_community/594/community_councils
  • Yes, as I said, voluntary organisations. In 20+ years here I've never had an opportunity to vote for a member of a community council. Every few years I get my voting card and go to the local school to elect a councillor for the local ward within South Lanarkshire Council, but there's no corresponding election for the community council.

    Besides, at least as described for the South Lan area, this isn't quite the level of government I was talking about. They have no budget to fund the local schools and social services, to repair roads or organise bin collections, nothing more than a talking shop for planning decisions. Beefing up these community councils so that they are a) elected by the whole community, with associated campaigning so we know who we are voting for, and b) have genuine governmental role would work, though a layer of government covering the whole of the town might be more appropriate.
  • They are elected by the whole community if there are sufficient candidates for a competitive election. If there are fewer candidates than places (as there were at our last election) then there is no vote and those standing are elected unopposed (I think the same happens at all levels of government but I could be wrong). The previous election there were more candidates than places so we did have a vote. I quite agree about the lack of powers, though here they've been very good as a conduit for lobbying on transport issues and organising ballots on local issues. It does help that ours is chaired by the recently retired GP who is a force of nature. For us it serves an important role because we share 3 local councillors with other islands and a chunk of the mainland and aren't big enough to count for much so it's vital that we have our own distinctive voice.
  • MakepeaceMakepeace Shipmate
    LeRoc wrote: »
    Your proposals would effectively make the EU a federal state.
    Indeed. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it certainly isn't where we are.

    At present the EU has a "democratic deficit" largely because it's not a government, it's a treaty organisation. To move towards a more democratic EU would mean that members would cease to be sovereign nations. The European Parliament would become a law making body, superseding national governments. The Commission would become a full-blown European civil service and need to be massively enlarged (at present it is far too small a body - much smaller than the national civil services of most EU nations - about 35,000 people cf: UK over 400,000 people). There would also need to be a much more formal set of alliances between political parties between nations, because without a small number of aligned parties (with a single leader, common manifesto for EU elections) there would be no means of forming a government from MEPs, even by consensus coalitions.

    You might well be correct but the tension seems to me to arise from the fact that the EU has many aspects which are like a federal state: open borders, a supreme court whose decisions are binding and a single currency. It seems folly to me to introduce federalisation in this way if you are not ready to have democratic governance of the same. It seems to me that the fundamental obstacle to federalisation of the EU is the economic gap between north western Europe and the rest of the continent. North Western Europe could federalise with very little difficulty. Surely it would have made more sense to have taken this step before permitting new member states and then permitting eastern Europe to enter into the common marker but without fully integrating until certain economic thresholds had been met.
  • MakepeaceMakepeace Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    I think the modern world tests democracy to its limits.

    Life is just incredibly complex and the details of much of what keeps us going are so counterintuitive. It's hard to imagine dealing with this without technocrats. The mantra of Brexit was "we've had enough of experts". This goes down well with voters but the outcome has proved just how important those experts are.

    Most people simply don't have the time or capacity to absorb all this complexity. I'm sure that fuels the rise of populism. As we have also seen, social media and fake news can easily be exploited to pervert democracy.

    I couldn't disagree more with these comments. Whilst Brexit has been interpreted as a rejection of experts I interpret it as a lack of connection between the governed and the governing classes. It is telling that the EU government played no role whatsoever in the remain campaign. Many of our laws are now made in Brussels. I'm not sure that many remain voters really understand how many laws are made by the EU as the British courts interpret them directly and are bound by CJEU decisions. When a person is governed by laws they cannot influence the path to tyranny is wide open. It may be that many of those laws are currently acceptable but it only takes one Julius Caesar to fill the vaccum and when that happens Caligula and Nero are following not far behind!


    Your theory only holds weight if you take the view that democratic governance only serves to boost our economy. On the contrary I take the view that our economy is a means to boosting democratic governance. Of course I am coming from the standpoint that whilst Brexit may have a temporary adverse effect on the economy we are likely to have a stronger economy in the long term but that is beside the point; democratic governance is an end in itself for me.
  • Makepeace wrote: »
    the tension seems to me to arise from the fact that the EU has many aspects which are like a federal state: open borders, a supreme court whose decisions are binding and a single currency.
    I'd question whether any of those are aspects that necessarily reflect a nation state (federal or otherwise). There's no reason why borders between two nations need to be closed, until relatively recently national borders were open (except in times of war between those nations, and even then often all that did was to introduce checks to make sure spies or other enemy agents didn't enter). Any judiciary should (IMO) be independent of the government anyway, providing constitutional checks on the government as well as criminal justice and conflict resolution - if a judiciary is independent of national governments then why couldn't it be international in scope any way? Besides, the European Court of Justice has very narrow jurisdiction - almost entirely with ensuring that different European agency comply with European law. So, the binding decisions are made by national governments who agreed to the various European treaties. And, there are lots of examples of shared currencies between nation states - when currencies were tied into the value of gold or silver then the differences between currencies was largely irrelevant anyway, and for much of history coins issued by different rulers (ranging from Emperors to local chiefs) have been widely used across large areas well beyond the territories controlled by those who issued the coins.

    So, I dispute that these, or any other aspect of the EU, constitutes a form of federalism.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    Makepeace wrote: »
    Whilst Brexit has been interpreted as a rejection of experts I interpret it as a lack of connection between the governed and the governing classes.
    I don't see a big difference. A distance between these classes is a logical consequence of a representative democracy: to run a complex country, you need people who know what they're doing. So naturally, many of them will be intellectuals in some sense.

    This distance is easily exploited by populists (who are usually no closer to the governed class themselves).
  • Makepeace wrote: »
    Whilst Brexit has been interpreted as a rejection of experts I interpret it as a lack of connection between the governed and the governing classes.
    I think both are connected, in that the experts are often seen as part of the governing classes. I think you're right that the vote marginally for Brexit (and in other situations the support gained by Trump and "people's parties" in other parts of Europe) is a reaction from a large proportion of the population against the mainstream political systems which are seen to varying extent as corrupt (eg: expenses claims by British MPs, even more corruption elsewhere), self-serving (eg: politicians earning what to most people are massive salaries, and voting to increase those), untrustworthy and often irrelevant (addressing concerns most people don't have while apparently doing nothing about what are seen as more real issues). Of course, that means that the vote was based on factors irrelevant to EU membership, and therefore would be a sound basis for considering the June 2016 result to not reflect the "will of the people" on the issues of EU membership. Which doesn't stop some people from simultaneously expressing the contradictory views that the vote both expresses the will of the people on EU membership and is a reaction against mainstream politics.
    It is telling that the EU government played no role whatsoever in the remain campaign.
    There would need to be an EU government to play such a role. As it is, there is no such government, with sovereignty residing with the people and governments of national states. It's conventional for governments not to comment on internal politics of other nations, unless those represent either a significant issue of human rights or will directly impact other nations or their citizens (in which case it could be argued that it's not just internal politics). Though I do recall a lot of comments from other EU nations about the rights of their citizens living in the UK during the referendum campaign - an issue they had every right to comment on.
    Many of our laws are now made in Brussels. I'm not sure that many remain voters really understand how many laws are made by the EU as the British courts interpret them directly and are bound by CJEU decisions.
    There are a lot of regulations and directives jointly agreed by the member states of the EU. But, very few laws. If the UK had never joined the EU, or if the EU had never been formed, then the UK statute books would still contain many regulations and directives that would appear very similar - first because many of them originated from the UK in the first place, and second because trade with our nearest neighbours would require agreements about the regulations governing that trade and the standards that should apply.
    When a person is governed by laws they cannot influence the path to tyranny is wide open.
    Much of the legislation produced by Westminster is open to the same accusation - we elect representatives, but quite often the MP I've had hasn't been the person I voted for and thus only represents me to a small extent. Even when the person I voted for has been elected then she may not be voting in the Commons in the way I would want. The influence I have over legislation from Westminster or Holyrood or Hamilton (where my local council offices are) is very small. The influence of the UK government over regulations and directives produced collaboratively by all the nations in the EU is certainly far greater than the influence I have over the UK government.

    But, I also agree. Which is why a minority of ideological anti-European racist thugs have managed to worm their way into power and formed a tyrannical anti-democratic government in the UK. BoJo and Rees-Mogg aren't a Caligula or Nero, but they're not that far off.

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