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Legitimacy, Democracy and Diversity in the European Union

Author(s): Peter A. Kraus

Journal: International Journal of Multicultural Societies
ISSN 1817-4574

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 203;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: cultural diversity | multiculturalism | cultural diversity in Europe | European citizenship

Taking the European Union’s motto as its point of departure, thepaper argues that even in a Europe in which the historical recordseems to have made important segments of the citizenry relativelyimmune to the temptations of a relapse into an exacerbated nationalism, to be “united in diversity” in a substantial sense requires much more than a combination of good will and sophisticatedconstitutional engineering. While celebrating diversity in very broadand abstract terms, Europe’s constitutional process has failed tospecify the concept’s proper meaning in the context of transnationalpolity-building. First, the impact that diversity has on Europe’spolitical architecture is assessed, maintaining that the EU can beconceived of as a multinational polity that combines consociationaland federal elements; it may also be considered, to some extent, toconstitute a post-sovereign order, which departs from former modelsof national integration. At the same time, however, the politics ofdiversity in the Union is largely constrained by the dynamics ofintergovernmentalism. This entails two major problems: biasedrecognition and a deficient input legitimacy. Their interplay is leading to a situation in which neither deeper political unity is achieved nor diversity properly protected. The paper finally claims that overcoming this impasse will be contingent upon a constitutional politics which actively confronts the task of redefining the basis of a commonEuropean citizenship without violating diversity.
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