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Engendering Democracy in the EU

Yvonne Galligan

One of the main difficulties in assessing the quality of democracy in the European Union is that this polity is hard to define. This difficulty has been debated at length, exposing the contradictions that emerge when democratic standards traditionally utilised in studies of nation-state democracies are transposed to the EU. Increasingly scholars dissociate themselves both from the claim that the EU cannot be democratic and from the claim that "everything goes"; as the latter would require a broadening of the meaning of democracy to the point that it becomes an empty signifier, while the former is also unacceptable given the increasing powers of the EU to legislate on matters that affect the lives of its citizens. But the question remains under-theorised from feminist perspectives.Our central argument is that the way in which we conceptualise the EU will have important implications for feminist assessments of democracy in this arena. Against this background, the paper considers how to engender democracy in the European Union under three different models of reconstituting democracy in this complex and evolving polity: 1) an intergovernmental entity with a role in auditing democracy in member-states, 2) a multi-federal state democracy and 3) a post-national regional democracy.

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