Two Steps to European Party Democracy
Therefore, the European parties are at present not capable of solving the problem of the EU’s democratic deficit. The proposed solutions can be divided into two groups. Proponents of the first group, who set forth various models, suggest reducing the importance of question of legitimacy; in other words, they ask whether the democratic legitimacy of the Community must necessarily take place via the EP. Scenarios were developed which give up the goal of parliamentary legitimacy entirely and look for other possibilities. Such solutions will not be discussed here since no convincing alternatives to the present practice have been proposed which have the slightest chance of being implemented.
voting system, their demand is also backed by the studies of European integration. The democratic principle requires, among other things, that all citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in the expression of the political will in the Community. This is grounded in the legally protected equal treatment of all Community citizens, which, however, conflicts with the fact that contingents of the member countries in the EP are not allotted on the basis of proportional representation.
The second group of proposals for solving the problem of the European democratic deficit points to certain political steps, based on the following maxim: “member-state legitimacy and Community legitimacy cannot replace each other mutually.”19 Therefore, if one remains with the present multi-level system in principle and considers the prospects for the establishment of a European party democracy, one has to agree with Rainer Stentzel: “the key to the entire reevaluation of the functions of European parties is in the expansion of the parties’ recruiting function which would result from direct elections to the European Parliament.”20
• nominations of EP candidates would take place within the European parties; • the entire European Union would function as one constituency; • citizens would vote for European-wide lists and/or single candidates; and • the votes would be distributed after the elections on the basis of proportional representation.
When it was adapted in September 1976, the act concerning the election of the representatives to the European Parliament stated that the voting regulations in force were to be only temporary until “the entry into force of a uniform electoral procedure.”21 Such a uniform procedure has always been a key demand of the ELDR and has been supported by the European Greens for ten years. Even though it is obvious that the two smaller party federations hope to increase the number of their MEPs in a uniform proportional
In order to promote the development of a European party system, the following fundamental principles would have to be integrated into any reform establishing a uniform right to vote:
Obstacles to be overcome All in all, no fundamental obstacles lie in the way of the implementation of a uniform European voting right and thus the establishment of a European party democracy. Nevertheless, plans to implement such a right have never even reached the stage of draft agreements since crucial participants have thus far been held back from discussing the topic, and this for at least four reasons: 1. The smaller Member States of the European Union would have to give up the superproportional weight of the votes of their citizens.
Grams 1998: 131. Stentzel 2002: 411. 21 “Pending the entry into force of a uniform electoral procedure and subject to the other provisions of this Act, the electoral procedure shall be governed in each Member State by its national provisions.” Act concerning the election of the representatives the Parliament by direct universal suffrage, annexed to the Council Decision of 20 September 1976, Council Decision (76/787/ ECSC, EEC, Euratom), Art. 7 (2). 19 20
European View_Transnational parties and european democracy