A democratic deficit (or democracy deficit) occurs when ostensibly democratic organizations or institutions (particularly governments) fall short of fulfilling the principles of democracy in their practices or operation where representative and linked parliamentary integrity becomes widely discussed.
The phrase democratic deficit is cited as first being used by the Young European Federalists in their Manifesto in 1977, which was drafted by Richard Corbett. The phrase was also used by David Marquand in 1979, referring to the then European Economic Community, the forerunner of the European Union.
Some scholars have argued that the ratification of European Union treaties by repeated referendums—such as those held in Ireland for the Treaty of Nice and the Treaty of Lisbon—is also associated with a democratic deficit. Another problem in the EU is that voters vote more on the basis of national issues in the European parliamentary elections and that the election is more used by voters to punish their government in the middle of their term. There is also insufficiently a European public opinion / European public sphere that votes against or rewards European politicians. Another problem is the big influence of lobbying groups on European institutions.
A study of the Columbia University concluded that policy in U.S. states is congruent with majority only half the time. The largest influences where found to be legislative professionalization, term limits, and issue salience. Partisanship and interest groups affect the ideological balance of incongruence more than the aggregate degree thereof. Policy is found to be overresponsive to ideology and party, leading policy to be polarized relative to state electorates. The large differences in voter turnout during the American elections for various income groups are also seen as a problem for the functioning of democracy.
- "A democratic deficit occurs when ostensibly democratic organizations or institutions in fact fall short of fulfilling what are believed to be the principles of democracy." Sanford Levinson, How the United States Constitution Contributes to the Democratic Deficit in America, 55 Drake L. Rev. 859, 860 (2007).
- Marquand, David (1979). Parliament for Europe. Cape. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-224-01716-9.
The resulting 'democratic deficit' would not be acceptable in a Community committed to democratic principles.
Chalmers, Damian; et al. (2006). European Union law: text and materials. Cambridge University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-521-52741-5.
'Democratic deficit' is a term coined in 1979 by the British political scientist . . . David Marquand .
Meny, Yves (2003). "De La Democratie En Europe: Old Concepts and New Challenges". Journal of Common Market Studies. 41: 1–13. doi:10.1111/1468-5965.t01-1-00408.
Since David Marquand coined his famous phrase 'democratic deficit' to describe the functioning of the European Community, the debate has raged about the extent and content of this deficit.
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- The EU's Democratic Deficit and Repeated Referendums in Ireland
- Reif, K. and Schmitt, H. (1980) ‘Nine Second-Order National Elections: A Conceptual Framework for the Analysis of European Election Results’. European Journal of Political Research, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 3–45.
- David Ward (2002) The European Union Democratic Deficit and the Public Sphere: An Evaluation of EU Media Policy. IOS Press.
- Interest Representation: Can Lobbying Regulation Help EU Overcome Democratic Deficit?
- The Democratic Deficit in the States Jeffrey R. Lax Columbia University Justin H. Phillips Columbia University