Representation and Institutional Make-up

WP 3 – Representation and Institutional Make-up

WP 3 events

Brussels, 15-16 June 2007

Kick-off workshop WP 3

During the first project period, the overall aims of WP 3 are to assess the status of democracy in Europe through the development of a framework for annual democracy audits, and the ‘model power’ of representative democracy in the multilevel European Union, with focus on parliamentary democracy. Read more on the research objectives of WP 3.

The aim of the first WP 3 workshop was to launch the research projects in WP 3 as an integrated programme of research. To that end the workshop was divided into three parts. The first section was designed to deepen and share the understanding of theories of representation and their application to the EU. The second section was devoted to presentations of the various WP 3 projects. In the final part, other RECON work package leaders commented on the possibilities for cooperation between WP 3 and the rest of the RECON network.

Keynote papers on representation and the EU

Three leading scholars were invited to present their views on the nature of representation and its application to the EU.

Jane Mansbridge (Kennedy School of Government, University of Harvard) made a case for ex ante over ex post representation. In her view, representative systems work better where they promote dialogue on broad values and goals prior to a period of representation than where they focus on retrospective sanctioning of office-holders.

Vivien Schmidt (Boston University) further developed her distinctive account (summarised in her recent book Democracy in Europe) of how Europe now functions as a regional state in which Union and national institutions are mutually implicated in the delivery of any one democratic standard such as representation.

Johannes Pollak (Austrian Academy of Sciences) identified the central problem for the EU as one of colliding systems of representations: claims and practices of representation that have grown in response to specific needs without always being fully compatible with one another.

WP 3 projects in RECON

In the second section of the workshop, Christopher Lord (University of Reading) presented the core tests of democratic performance that will form the basis of the updated ‘Democratic Audit of the European Union’ to be carried out within WP 3. The core tests, he argued, should be those that follow directly from a definition of democracy as public control with political equality. Ben Crum (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) presented his research plans on modes of inter-parliamentary cooperation, directed at overcoming tendencies to study the European Parliament and the Europeanisation of national parliaments separately. Zdenka Mansfeldova and Petra Rakusanova (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic) presented their research plans on the Czech Republic as a case study of the development – and adaptation to Europe – of representative politics in a post-communist society. The presentation emphasised the importance of specific local conditions and contexts, and thus of not omitting ‘bottom-up’ approaches to the analysis of representative politics in the ‘new Europe’.



Friday 15 June

A Selection Model of Political Representation
Jane Mansbridge, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Democracy in a Regional State
Vivien Schmidt, Boston University
Colliding systems of Representation
Johannes Pollak, Austrian Academy of Sciences 

Saturday 16 June


A Democratic Audit of the European Union
Christopher Lord, University of Reading


The Representative Parliamentary Dimension
Ben Crum
, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


An evaluation of democracy in the Czech Republic with an emphasis on representation
Zdenka Mansfeldova/Petra Rakusanova, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic


Collaboration with other RECON work packages
John-Erik Fossum, ARENA, University of Oslo


RECON WP 2 – Constitutional Politics
Ben Crum
, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

RECON WP 4 – Gender, Justice and Demoracy
Yvonne Galligan, Queen’s University Belfast

RECON WP 5 – Civil Society and Public Sphere
Ulrike Liebert, University of Bremen 

Organised by Christopher Lord, University of Reading