The empty place of European power: Contested democracy and the technocratic threat

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Abstract

In this article, I analyse the European Union (EU) in the light of the Lefortian question: What place does power have in a democracy? Claude Lefort has argued that modern democracy is a regime where the place of power is empty. In this article, I investigate what this entails for the EU. I take the current situation of democracy in the EU as being marked by two developments: the contestation of democracy by citizens on the one hand and the hollowing out of democracy at the EU level on the other. Exemplary for the first development are the popular protest movements known as the indignados. The second feature is exemplified by governance and technocracy. My argument suggests that the critical response of the former to the latter can in fact be read as the claim that what should have been the empty place of power in European democracy has come to be occupied by the estab- lishment of an authoritarian regime of expert rule.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482–494
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Law Journal
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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