The power of the European Parliament has been steadily and visibly increasing in recent years. This arises from EU treaty changes and from the fact that more and more decisions are being made at the European level. At the same time, however, the already low rate of turnout in European elections has actually been declining. This powerful new study examines a seemingly paradoxical situation which has raised deep concern about the democratic deficit in the European Union. The authors analyse the concepts of participation, democracy, and legitimacy and their applicability at the European level and develop a typology of voter participation and abstention in the European context. Combining extensive new data from specially commissioned surveys in all 1994 member states with a searching review of the existing evidence, they provide a comprehensive account of the legitimacy of the European Union and examine the images of the European Parliament, citizens experiences of the 1994 campaign and their perceptions of the parties and the candidates.
In an analysis that challenges existing interpretations, the institutional, demographic, and attitudinal sources of participation and abstention are fully explored. The study concludes by considering how participation and democratic representation might be enhanced, acknowledging forthrightly the obstacles and inherent limits that such efforts are likely to face.
Richard Sinnott: Educated at University College Dublin and Georgetown University, Richard Sinnott worked as a research fellow at the ESRI (The Economic and Social Research Institute), Dublin before joining the Department of Politics in UCD. Since 1989 he has been Director of CEEPA (Centre for European Economic and Public Affairs), a research and postgraduate teaching centre at UCD. He has held research fellowships at the European University Institute, Florence, at
the Center for Science and International Affairs and the Center for European Studies, Harvard University, at the Institute for Security Studies, The Western European Union, Paris and at the Graduate School of Political Science, Waseda University, Tokyo. He has also been a visiting lecturer at the
Department de Ciencia Politica i Dret Public, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. (See NBA for remainder of text.)
Palle Svensson: Palle Svensson is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. From 1984-85 he was Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence. He has been a member of the editorial board and editor of the Danish political science journal Politica, and Co-chairman of the Tempus project for the development of political science in Czechoslovakia. He is the Chairman of the People's University in Aarhus and Consultant to
the Danish Foreign Ministry on democratization and elections.
Jean Blondel was educated in Paris (Institut d'etudes politiques and Faculty of Law of the University of Paris) and at Oxford (St Antony's College). He became lecturer in political institutions at the University of Keele (Staffordshire) in 1958, was ACLS Fellow at Yale in 1963-4 and the founding professor of the Department of Government at the University of Essex in 1964 where he remained up to 1983. He co-founded the European Consortium of political Research in 1970 and directed it up to
1978. He was Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York in 1984 and Professor of Political Science at the European University Institute in Florence to which he has remained attached. (See NBA for remainder of text.)