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National and European Understandings of Democracy: The Case of Austria and the EU

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Author(s): Josef Melchior

Journal: European Integration Online Papers
ISSN 1027-5193

Volume: 9;
Issue: 4;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: democracy | polity building | Nation-state | Europeanization | governance | political science

ABSTRACT
The paper explores the Austrian understanding of democracy and its likely implications for the European Union. It develops a framework consisting of democratic "frames", "practices" and "discourse" for the analysis of national democratic systems. The Austrian understanding of democracy is influenced by its disruptive history of state- and nation-building and based on an impure parliamentary structure, which for some time had been impeded in its functioning by peculiar consociational practices. Implications of Austria's understanding of democracy for the evolution of the EU are derived from Austria's experience of national identity formation and its peculiar federal and constitutional practices. We identify significant corresponding elements in the workings of democratic governance and complementary "democratic deficits" at both levels which result in rather weak incentives for a more radical democratization of the EU.

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