Non-Electoral Accountability in Global Politics: Strengthening Democratic Control within the Global Garment Industry
Macdonald, Terry, and Kate Macdonald. "Non-electoral accountability in global politics: strengthening democratic control within the global garment industry." European Journal of International Law 17, no. 1 (2006): 89-119.
29 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2006
This article challenges the widespread view that democratic accountability is unattainable in global politics because of the impracticality of establishing global elections. Instead, it argues that global democratic accountability can potentially be achieved by instituting non-electoral mechanisms that perform equivalent accountability functions through more workable institutional means. This argument is defended at a theoretical level, and further illustrated by analysing an empirical case study of the institutions through which labour standards in the global garment industry are determined. The article first explains why electoral mechanisms are no longer a viable means for achieving democratic accountability in political contexts such as the global garment industry, that are characterized by the decentralized dispersion of public decision-making power among a range of organizationally disparate state and non-state actors. It then identifies the key democratic function of electoral accountability as that of ensuring a reasonable degree of public control over public decision-making, and argues that this normative function can, in principle, be legitimately performed through non- electoral as well as electoral mechanisms. Finally, it elaborates the key institutional features of a legitimate framework of non-electoral accountability – public transparency and public disempowerment – and illustrates how these functions could potentially be achieved in practice, with reference to the example of the global garment industry.
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