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The Representedness of EU Citizens Analysed through Institution Design, Problem-Solving Capacity and Voter Competence

Chien-Yi Lu

Citizens of democratic countries are used to being represented through democratic mechanisms such as periodic renewal of representative institutions. When crucial public decisions are no longer made at national but at supranational venues such as the EU, however, can citizens of the member countries still be appropriately represented? Based on experiences in human history, democracy can work only in the presence of pre-conditions such as functional representative institutions, good problem-solving capacity, integral chains of democratic accountability, voter competence, and existence of public sphere. Based on these assumptions, this paper investigates how responsive the EU is to preferences of European citizens by scrutinizing empirically the presence of the above preconditions. It begins by examining the templates of working democratic models with an emphasis on their chains of democratic accountability, highlighting the common factors that make democracies work. It then examines whether these same factors are present at the EU level. In order to measure how well voters are informed, comparisons will be made between media reports prior to national elections and European elections. Frequencies of media reports on trade, industry, foreign aid, and agricultural policies in national contexts with those in EU context will also be compared.

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