New Book: The Unfinished Democratization of Europe

For the first time in human history, we witness the development of a political order that is not based on a culturally homogenized people, or brought about by coercion and brute force. In this book, Erik O. Eriksen deals with the fact that a new political order has arisen in Europe, an order which has transformed the Westphalian order. The nature of the European Union is a large and contentious issue, but nevertheless it is one which has brought to the fore the question of whether post-national democracy is possible. Are we now witnessing the third transformation of democracy – to a post-national form – succeeding the transformations to the city-state and to the nation state?

The Unfinished Democratization of Europe

Erik Oddvar Eriksen, Oxford University Press 2009


Alas, the resources for such a move are shallow at the European level and it is the member states that hold the means of legitimate violence in reserve. The European Union is a polity that does not itself have direct control of a given territory; it lacks a collective identity; truly hierarchical principles of law and powerful enforcement means.

The point is however that the widening and deepening of the European Union have brought to the fore the question of democracy at the European level. The system of domination already in place at the European level requires and aspires to direct legitimation – from the citizens themselves and not merely indirect, derived from the Member Nation States. Such can only be achieved by making the EU into a democratic polity. It is argued that post-national democracy requires a constitution but not necessarily a state.

It is further argued that the Union amounts to less than a state but more than an international organisation and a system of transnational governance. The EU is conceived of as a regional subset of an emerging cosmopolitan order based on a state-less government.

The book analyzes the reforms undertaken to bring the EU ‘closer to the citizens’. It documents elements of democratization and reduction of arbitrary power. However, democracy requires that the citizens can approve or reject the laws they are subjected to. Since the institutional as well as the civic conditions under which a public justification process would be deemed legitimate are not in place, European post-national democracy remains an unaccomplished mission. .


See more at the publisher’s website.