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 Nordic Party Members: Linkages in Troubled Times, Edited by Marie Demker, Knut Heidar, and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen

Decline of Democracy - The EU at the Crossroads?

Democracy
 
European Union
 
Comparative Perspective
 
Presenter
Theresia Smolka
University of Duisburg-Essen
Authors
Theresia Smolka
University of Duisburg-Essen

Abstract
Within the past years, several violations of the EU´s political Copenhagen criteria, namely the fundamental principles of democracy, rule of law and the respect for and protection of minorities and human rights, could be observed in both new and old member states. Among these are restrictions of the freedom of the press in Italy in 2009 or the adoption of the fourth amendment to the constitution as well as the media law in Hungary in 2010 / 11. These examples indicate a decline in civil and political freedoms as well as a loss of the quality of democracy. Thus, the paper seeks to answer the following research question: Does a Decline of Democracy exist in the EU member states, and if so, what are its causes? The EU´s definition of democracy and the Democracy Barometer`s (DB) concept of the quality of democracy serve as theoretical framework to assess the loss of quality in the EU member states over the period from 2004 to 2012. To distinguish between the two concepts loss of quality and Decline of Democracy Erdmann´s (2011) definition is used. The DB, which has been standardized with regard to the EU member states, provides the data basis for mapping changes in the overall quality and identifying a Decline of Democracy. The modernization theory, the political culture approach as well as the concepts of differentiated integration and Europeanization are applied in order to detect causes for a Decline of Democracy. A csQCA is conducted in order to identify combinations of conditions which lead to the outcome. It shows that a Decline of Democracy occurs in both old and new member states. The results of the csQCA indicate that the outcome is associated with a low income inequality and a long time of EU membership.
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