Let Me Vote in Your Country, and I’ll Let You Vote in Mine. A Proposal for Transnational Democracy
66 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 2019
Technocratic forms of international governance have spurred the rise of populist nationalists in Europe and around the globe. Joachim Blatter argues that we should tackle these intertwined challenges to representative democracy by transnationalising national democracies. In his kick-off text for the GLOBALCIT forum, he illustrates the underlining general problematique with the example of the Euro crisis, describes concrete steps towards a system of overlapping and transnationalised national democracies and outlines the potential benefits that would arise from a horizontal expansion of national demoi, elections and representation for democratic parties, parliaments and peoples.
Blatter proposes that democracies should sign “joint declarations of interdependence” in which they express their commitment to the democratisation of their joint forms of governance and reciprocally offer their citizens the status of “consociated citizens.” These consociated citizens enjoy the right to elect a limited number of “consociated representatives” in the parliaments of the consociated states. The elected and thereby directly authorised consociated representatives bring the perspectives and interests of the consociated citizens into the collective will-formation and decision-making process of the consociated states. According to Blatter, politicians and political parties would benefit since the current trade-off between being responsive and responsible would become weaker. National parliaments would regain their core place in the democratic process by serving as the central spaces for the necessary reconnect between international rule making and nationally embedded will-formation. Democratic nations would provide each other a legitimate pathway for getting involved in their domestic will-formation and decision-making processes. Citizens receive additional and constructive means for political participation and contestation.
GLOBALCIT has invited eleven scholars to engage with Blatter’s proposal. Most see it as stimulating and constructive but raise further questions and some concerns. Is it focussing too much on institutional reform of democratic processes instead of tackling issues of socio-economic inequality that propel the rise of populism? Is the model grounded in a coherent theory of democracy? Do the envisioned multiple and overlapping demoi undermine the necessary clarity of membership boundaries of political communities? Do consociated citizenship and limited powers of consociated representatives undermine a core democratic norm of political equality? The proposal assumes that reciprocity would be a helpful stimulus for the proposed expansion of the electorate, but what about the motivations of individual actors? Politicians might not want to give up current opportunities to mobilise domestic voters by blaming the external others. Furthermore, many commentators point to alternative ways of democratising relations of interdependence between states, which they perceive as more feasible or desirable, such as the strengthening of the European Parliament, transnational citizen assemblies or transnational referenda.
In his response, Blatter points to theoretical foundations of his proposal, emphasizes its conceptual innovations in imagining fuzzy boundaries and proportional equality, and argues that the proposed pathway towards a system of horizontally overlapping representative democracies offers many advantages compared to its alternatives.
Keywords: Transnationalism, democracy, citizenship, representation, interdependence, European Union.
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