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National Political Parties and EU

Democracy: A Love Story?


Shawnna Robert | European Integration | Spring 2010

Among scholars who focus on the European Union, the history of that country. One could say that the
one camp maintains that there is not a problem with democracies of the member states are functioning in
the European Union; the democratic deficit is different ways and with varying levels of success,
imaginary because scholars compare the structure of and that this variance in quality of democracy
the European Union to other structures that are among the member states could affect the
incomparable. Andrew Moravcsik is among these democratic level of the EU. Thus, the main question
scholars. In his article Reassessing Legitimacy in the here is: can the working democracies on the
European Union, he specifically claims that: national level reliably supply indirect democracy to
"Still, if European elections were the the European Union?
only form of democratic accountability to Method and Definitions
which the EU were subject, skepticism would
surely be warranted. Yet a more important To determine the viability of Moravcsik's claim, this
channel lies in the democratically elected paper will examine the democracies of two member
governments of the Member States, which states of the EU: Sweden and Latvia. The analysis
dominate the still largely territorial and uses these cases for two reasons. First, the goal is to
intergovernmental structure of the EU. In analyze two countries in a similar geographic region
the European Council, ... elected heads of of Europe that have different political backgrounds;
state and government wield power directly. Sweden has been a free country for many decades,
In the Council of Ministers, ... permanent while Latvia has been free from the Soviet Union
representatives, ministerial officials and the for 20 years. Furthermore, the Economist
ministers themselves from each country act Democracy Index rates Sweden as being the best
under constant instruction from national functioning democracy in the world, and rates
executives, just as they would at home. Here Latvia as being the worst functioning democracy in
the bonds of accountability are tight: these the Nordic and Baltic regions. To be clear, at
representatives can be re-instructed or number 46 in the list of 167 countries analyzed,
recalled at will, often more easily than Latvia is hardly a failed democracy. As the
parliamentarians in national systems. In Economist puts it, Latvia is a flawed democracy.2
addition, national parliaments consider and The question driving this comparison is: how do the
comment on many EU policies, though political parties on the national level affect the
their de facto ability to influence policy democracy of the European Union? In examining
fluctuates greatly by country."1 the democracy of Sweden and Latvia, I will start by
In short, Moravcsik believes in indirect democracy; uncovering the historical factors that make the party
if democracy works on the national level then systems of the two countries so different. Next, I will
the European Union automatically gains formal examine the quality of the competitive process as a
input legitimacy and thus there is no democratic result of the political party system and how this in
deficit within the European Union. For him, since turn affects the level of democracy in each country.
the voters have preferences and use them to The Final section of this paper will discuss the
influence their decision makers, the EU is implications of these findings for the European
"democratically legitimate." Union against the core argument for indirect
democracy as outlined by Moravcsik.
The focus of this paper is to determine the viability
of this claim. While member states must be liberal The competitive process between the political elites
democracies to join the EU, the exact form and for the votes of the electorate is often considered the
function of democracy within a country depends on
2The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited, “Country
Profile 2009”; The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited,
1 Moravcsik, “In defence of the 'democratic deficit',” 612. “Country Profile 2009: Sweden..”

1
lynchpin of a successful democracy; the preferences resigning over computer hacking that he did not
of the electorate directly dictate the makeup of attempt to stop.7
the government, thus providing legitimacy for
Latvia’s constitution provides for a unicameral 100-
the government’s decisions and reasserting the
member parliament called the Saeima. Parties gain
publics command over their government.3
proportional representation by winning at least 5%
Additionally, accountability is possible because
of the popular vote. The Saeima, through secret
of a competitive electoral process; competition
ballot, chooses the president, who mostly has foreign
provides the electorate with options by informing
political power. The President appoints and the
the voters on what to expect from the party and
Saeima approves the Prime Minister. Among the
its members, and by reporting how the party and
other countries categorized as a flawed democracy
its competition performed in the past. Citizens’
by The Economist’s Democratic Index, Latvia
having accurate information is a prerequisite for
performs well due to good scores in the electoral
accountability, but political parties are hesitant to
system and civil liberties categories. However,
provide this information unless compelled to do so
Latvia looses points because of a controversial
through competition.4
citizenship barrier; residents must pass a Latvian
However, accountability is not the same as language test to become a citizen.
democracy.5 In defining democracy, it is important
During the years that Latvia was part of the
to recognize that each country has its own accord
Soviet Union, many Russians migrated to and
of what is democratic. Regardless, this paper will
remained in Latvia once the country became free
consider the competitive model of democracy,
again. Over time, Latvians learned Russian, but
which is the struggle of political elites for the
Russians did not typically learn Latvian.8 Thus,
support of the people. In addition, this paper will
this citizenship test disenfranchises many longtime
assume that, whichever form of liberal democracy
Russian residents; nearly one-fifth of residents
a member state takes, the core assumption of
are not citizens. A party system rule further
democracy includes the “effective participation
disenfranchises the Russian residents; noncitizens
in collective decisions of all individuals affected
may join political parties, but at least half of
by them.”6
any political party must consist of citizens, and
The Current Situation candidates must be nominated by a party to run
for election.9 Finally, Latvia also looses points on
Sweden's constitution provides for a unicameral
the Democratic Index due to corruption. Recent
349-member parliament called the Riksdag. Parties
examples of this corruption include the conviction
gain proportional representation by winning at
of two district court judges for accepting bribes, the
least 4% of the national popular vote or 12% in
dismissal of entire city councils over suspected
any one of the 29 districts. The speaker of the
widespread corruption, and the dissolution of the
Riksdag appoints the Prime Minister, and the
government of Latvia in response to the Prime
Riksdag approves the appointment. Among the
Minister attempting to cover up corruption by
other countries categorized as a full democracy by
firing the director of the anti-corruption bureau.10
The Economist on the Democratic Index, Sweden
outperforms the other 166 countries, loosing points Historical Factors and Political Party
only in the democratic political culture category Systems
(largely categorized by questions regarding citizen’s
Political parties play an important role in the
perceptions of how government and democracy
democratic process as competition encourages
should run). While corruption is rare in Sweden,
policy innovation, is a mechanism for holding
the country is not without controversy. One recent
leaders accountable, and helps to put issues of
example includes the Liberal Party secretary
contention into the media. Further, parties tend to
be the 'agents of representation' as they ultimately
decide whom the leadership of the party will consist
3 Cini, European Union politics, 175.
4 Gustavsson, The illusion of accountability in the European 7 Freedom House, “Country Report.”
Union, 32. 8 Dreifelds, Latvia in transition, 157.
5 Ibid., 29-30. 9 Freedom House, “Country Report.”
6 Ibid., 31. 10 Ibid.

2
of, and they attempt to structure the choices that were new developments; the Christian
available to voters. Thus, the party system of Democrats organized around opposition to a
a country is a means of achieving competitive decision to remove religious curriculum from
democracy, and the way a country’s party elementary school, and the Green Party organized
system works can affect the quality of democracy around opposition to a nuclear power referendum
in a country.11 in 1980.
One way to analyze the quality of a political party Around the same time that the modern system of
system is to determine how stable the system is by government was taking shape in Sweden, the free
determining when the patterns of interaction among state of Latvia was establishing a democracy. This
the parties becomes predictable.12 Here, predictable foray into democratic rule came to an abrupt end
refers to consistency in choice of parties and the when an authoritarian government came into power
parties that are likely to win representation. There following a coup d’état.16 The new regime had a
are three factors which affect the formation of party difficult time resisting the powers of the Soviet
systems: socio-economic and political history, the Union, and became part of the union in 1940.
institutional structures and political system, and the
Mikhail Gorbachev began liberalizing the USSR
nature of the actors. For the sake of paper length,
in the mid 1980s. The Latvians tested this new
this analysis will address the first two. To begin, in
initiative by reviving their commitment to their
the case of Sweden and Latvia, the history of their
culture and by becoming committed to fighting
political party system has created two very different
environmental issues. Achievements against the
systems: one that is quite stable, and another, which,
Soviets in both areas energized the youth and made
in comparison, changes as the wind blows.13
the Latvians feel as though they had the power to
The labor movements in Germany inspired change their situation. Demonstrations augmented
analogous movements in Scandinavia. The 1889 Latvian unity, and in 1988, a union responsible for
birth of the social democratic party in Sweden was much of the Latvian cultural revival declared intent
a result of a working class grassroots movement that to work towards emancipation from the Soviet
demanded more political power, and tended to Union. Ultimately, Latvia declared independence
be an umbrella organization for the trade unions, in 1990 through the awkwardly named the
labor associations, and the like. Sweden introduced Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the
proportional representation of parties in parliament Republic of Latvia.17
in 1909, and the eventual dissolution of the union of
As Latvia gained independence and reestablished
Norway and Sweden precipitated the alignment of
their legislature, the Saeima, "political parties
the Labor and Liberal parties on the common goal
sprouted like mushrooms after a warm, autumn
of universal suffrage.14 Once Sweden introduced
rain in post-Soviet Latvia." Among them, several
universal suffrage in 1921, Sweden enjoyed a stable
prewar parties reestablished themselves. As parties
five party system until the 1964 elections when the
formed, they often tried to use familiar names and
Christian Democrat Party gained representation.
symbols of the past to gain widespread recognition.
Since the Green Party gained representation in
Of the twenty-three parties that attempted to gain
1982, Sweden has enjoyed a predictable seven
seats in the Saeima, eight were successful. In the
party system.15 Both parties were founded on issues
following elections, the number of candidate parties
stayed roughly the same, while the number of
11 Millard, Elections, parties, and representation in post-
parties represented in the Saeima decreased. While
communist Europe, Chap. 1; Hix, “What's Wrong with the this may seem like a consolidation of interests, it
European Union and How to Fix It,” 76-77. is important to note that no clear pattern of
12 Toole, “Government Formation and Party System interaction among parties winning representation in
Stabilization in East Central Europe,” 442. the Saeima has emerged yet. Also, recent elections
13 Millard, Elections, parties, and representation in post- have included interesting changes in party system
communist Europe, Chap. 1. structure: one party, formed seemingly on a whim
14 Berglund, The Scandinavian party system(s) : a comparative
just a few months before an election, received a
study, 48, 27, 31.
15 Statitiska centralbyrån, “Historisk statistik över valåren

1910-2006. Procentuell fördelning av giltiga valsedlar 16 Dreifelds, Latvia in transition, 17-19.


efter parti och typ av val.” 17 Ibid., 53-55, 57-58, 62-65.

3
majority vote, and some parties that once enjoyed a democracy and for competition, but pluralism
majority of seats in the Saeima disappeared from itself is not inherently competitive.22 Electoral
Latvian politics after the next election.18 competition is necessary to ensure not only
accountability but also responsiveness from
Even if consolidation through alliance occurred
leaders; "Elections make politicians accountable
during the 2006 Saeima elections, the Latvian
on a regular basis, but only competitive interaction
party system is less predictable than the Swedish
makes them responsive."23
party system. This is evident through the continuing
consolidation of parties, and the unpredictable Party competition provides the electorate with
swing of party dominance from one party to options by informing the voters on what to expect
another.19 Another key distinction between from the party and its members, and by reporting
the party systems of Sweden and Latvia is the how the party and its competition performed in the
consistency of voter choice. Latvians rarely vote past. Citizens’ having correct information is a
loyally to one party. This could be partially because prerequisite for accountability, but political parties
the available list of parties to vote for is constantly are hesitant to provide this information unless
changing, the list of parties that are likely to win compelled to do so through competition.24 In sum, a
representation changing, or a result of Latvians country’s political system can be a democracy with
voting because of the leadership at the time of elections that are not competitive, but competition
voting. The leadership of parties seems to be in increases the level of democracy in a country.
flux and tends to come from a small pool of party
There are three requirements for competition to
members. If a powerful party leader leaves an
maximize the responsiveness of political leaders to
organization, the future of the organization is
the wishes of citizens: the leaders have to be
uncertain.20 In contrast, Swedish voters historically
vulnerable to electoral sanctions, voters must be
have a relatively high degree of party loyalty year
willing to punish or reward politicians with their
after year. 21 This could simply be the result of
vote, and the platform of the parties must be clear
Swedish voters having more experience voting in a
and different enough to avoid random voting.
democratic system, or because the available political
Random voting is a problem because it leads to
parties that are likely to win representation remain
random punishments, random rewards, and
roughly the same over time.
ultimately low responsiveness.25 If political leaders
This is not to say that the political party system in have fewer incentives to respond to the requests
Latvia is not democratic while Sweden's is. The of their citizens, then they are unlikely to be held
whole point is to show that they function in a accountable and the democracy of the nation
different way. The aim now is to determine how will suffer.
these differences affect the democracy of the
In the case of Sweden's political parties, recent
European Union. First, however, it is necessary
evidence suggests that all three characteristics
to define how competition is important for
are generally present. The parliamentary elections
democracy, and if the political party systems of
held in 2006 lead to a change in government. The
each country provide a satisfactory level of
government, ruled by the Social Democrats, failed
competition to its constituents.
to translate a relatively strong economy into jobs,
Competition falling short of their target, and was the subject
of several serious scandals. Thus, the electorate
There are a few ways of defining the interaction of
punished the incumbent government with their
competition and democracy. This paper assumes
vote. Also, a clear and different enough party
that political competition is a potential element of
structure existed; the opposition parties formed
democracy within a framework of rules which
allows competition to remain manageable.
Pluralism is a necessary condition for both 22 Bartolini, “Collusion, Competition and Democracy,”
445.
18 Pabriks, Latvia : the challenges of change, 69-71, 83-84. 23 Ibid., 450.
19 Nordsieck, “Parties and Elections in Europe.” 24 Gustavsson, The illusion of accountability in the European
20 Pabriks, Latvia : the challenges of change, 85. Union, 32.
21 Berglund, The Scandinavian party system(s) : a comparative 25 Bartolini, “Collusion, Competition and Democracy,”

study, 89. 453-4.

4
and heavily marketed an alliance, where each party resulting in random voting.28 Conversely, a push in
still ran separately but with the promise of a four advertising among the parties could be credited for
party government. The result of both of these providing the electorate with clear and different
aspects of the 2006 election shows that the parties, platforms from which to choose, resulting in less or
even those that have been in power for years and in no random voting.29
a country that typically has a high degree of voter
Ultimately, a more thorough investigation
loyalty, are vulnerable to electoral sanctions.26
would provide conclusive evidence regarding both
In the case of Latvia's political parties, recent cases. However, the point remains that Sweden
evidence suggests the same may not be true. and Latvia have different political party structures
Similar to Sweden, and not surprisingly, the and interactions with their public as a result of
2006 parliamentary elections led to a change in historical precedence. In the case of Sweden, the
government as seat majorities changed hands in country’s party structure and function leads to high
the Saeima and the cabinet became more party amounts of electoral competition, which increases
inclusive. This initially signifies that the electorate accountability, incentives for responsiveness, and
is willing to reward or punish the parties. However, ultimately Democracy. In the case of Latvia, the
a much lower turnout in comparison to the previous country’s party structure and function leads to
parliamentary election, which is attributed to questionable amounts of competition, and
disillusionment among the voters with party ultimately hurts its democratic level.
politics, suggests that this willingness is subsiding.
National Parties and the European Union
The comparison here is compelling. Latvia typically
experiences a shift in representation in its Towards the aim of this paper, this next section
parliament as a result of elections, yet voter turnout will examine the effects of the current political
went down in 2006. In contrast, Sweden’s likely system and the competition created by the political
change in party representation within the parties in Sweden and Latvia against Moravcsik’s
parliament is credited with an increase in turnout claims while also outlining other weakness in his
in the same year.27 Regardless, the parties in Latvia argument. In the argument for indirect democracy,
are subject to electoral sanctions. Here lies another Moravcsik addresses three European institutions
point of comparison; as mentioned before, Swedes that the elected officials of each member state affect:
tend to vote for the same party year after year, the European Council, the Council of Ministers,
while Latvians tend to vote more because of the and the national parliaments themselves.
leadership of a party. Remember that the leadership It is hardly debatable that the elections to the
of Latvian parties tends to change often. As a result, national parliaments are the most competitive
the political parties in Sweden are subject to and democratic process in the European Union
different reasons for punishment and reward since they achieve the core assumption of
than those in Latvia. Several parties experienced democracy – “effective participation in collective
major leadership change-ups, splits, or coalition decisions of all individuals affected by them.”
creations in the years following the 2002 Latvian However, Moravcsik’s assumption presumes t
parliamentary elections. It remains unclear if hat elections in the national realm focus on topics
random voting was a problem in 2006. The years addressed on the level of the EU. Examples of this
prior to the election could have led to an unclear include candidates not revealing who they will
inconsistency of voter options from election to support for Commission President and national
election, leading to unclear party platforms and political party platforms minimally mentioning
EU policy issues. Here lies a similarity between
Sweden and Latvia; during the 2006 elections,
26 Widfeldt, “Political data in 2003 - Sweden”; Widfeldt,
neither Sweden’s nor Latvia’s current majority
party listed any European issue on its party
“Political data in 2002 - Sweden”; Widfeldt, “Political
data in 2004 - Sweden”; Widfeldt, “Political data in 2005
- Sweden”; Widfeldt, “Political data in 2006 - Sweden”;
Widfeldt, “Political data in 2007 - Sweden”; Widfeldt,
“Political data in 2008 - Sweden.” 28 Toole, “Government Formation and Party System
27 Ikstens, “Political data in 2007 - Latvia”; Widfeldt, Stabilization in East Central Europe,” 456.
“Political data in 2007 - Sweden.” 29 Ikstens, “Political data in 2007 - Latvia.”

5
platform.30 Instead, the elections are more focused result of Latvia’s political parties not engaging in
on which parties should form the government and enough competition to compel the government to
which party leader should be Prime Minister for make the setup of its system transparent, thus
national policy reasons. This dynamic makes the limiting the vulnerability of the leaders to electoral
national governments, not the parliaments, the sanctions. Compared to Sweden, Latvia’s political
most accountable institutions in the EU. parties do not have the same fuel as Sweden’s
political parties to inform the public so they can use
Regarding the European Council, Moravcsik points
their vote to hold their representation accountable.
out that the elected heads of state and governments
wield power directly. Essentially, the assumption Finally, considering the Council of Ministers,
here is that the country’s representation, in this Moravcsik believes that the permanent
case by Sweden and Latvia’s prime ministers, will be representatives, ministerial officials, and the
subject to electoral accountability back home. As ministers are the puppets of the national
discussed above, the national elections tend to hold governments with the threat of recall imminent if
governments and Prime ministers accountable they do not promote the interests dictated by the
through national parliamentary elections. However, national government. However, these threats need
there are still a few problems with this assumption. substance to be effective. Each member state
Primarily, the European Council is not as establishes the contract of delegation, screening and
transparent as it could be. Specifically, when the selection process, monitoring and reporting process,
European Council is creating legislation it should and institutional checks as they see fit. Considering
act more like a national legislature with public the analysis above, it is not a stretch to assume that
debates and minutes that include which different rules govern the Latvian and Swedish
governments proposed which legislation and which delegations, and that the quality of the rules and the
governments voted for it. Without this information, ability to successfully keep the representatives on
the citizens of each country cannot hold the task can and will vary.32 Moravcsik would say that
government responsible for not representing their member states have sufficient powers to enforce
wishes. Additionally, with this information, political institutional checks – checks that prevent agency
parties will have more fuel to ignite the public loss. However, the costs associated with enforcing
debate needed to satisfy the requirements of a truly these checks are high as the main monitoring
competitive electoral discourse. This example shows mechanisms are police-patrol based. This
how the organization of the European Union arrangement is a result of not enough competition
hinders the political parties ability to influence among the parties in the member states on how to
European policy uniformly. Second, and similarly as set up the delegation. It is in a party’s best interest to
above, this assumption presumes that elections in reduce potential political costs, and if there are not
the national realm are concerned with EU issues.31 enough competitive views in the dialogue regarding
the rules regulating the Council representatives, the
Finally, this assumption suggests that the citizens of
ruling parties will make rules that might not be the
all countries have the same opportunities to hold
best for future accountability. In sum, the way
their leaders accountable as the next, and that each
member states delegate powers to the EU through
country’s leadership has the same incentives to be
the Council of Ministers depends on the quality of
responsive. The speaker of the Riksdag, who the
the competition within the party systems of the
Riksdag elects, appoints Sweden’s Prime Minister,
member states.
who the Riksdag approves. The President of Latvia,
who the Saeima chooses through secret ballot, What He Missed
appoints Latvia’s Prime Minister, who the Saeima
There are other ways that a member state’s national
approves. The lack of information available to the
parliament affects its own representation in the EU
citizens of Latvia regarding who voted for the
that Moravcsik excluded from his core argument for
President is a problem for accountability when
indirect democracy. The most pressing of these
compared to the process in Sweden. This setup is a
omissions is the impact on the European Court of
Justice. While the Justices of the ECJ are supposed
30 “Jaunais laiks > 4000 zīmju programma 9.Saeimai”;

“Valet 2006 - Socialdemokraterna.”


31 Hix, “What's Wrong with the European Union and Gustavsson, The illusion of accountability in the European
32

How to Fix It,” 78. Union, 84-95.

6
to act independently of politics, they are nonetheless platform of the member state. Without effective
representatives of the state they come from if only preference formation, there is little basis for the
for the fact that each state nominates and has a citizens of a member state or the state’s government
justice in the ECJ. To decide the representation, the to hold European Union representatives
national governments come to a joint agreement accountable. The design and function of the
regarding the appointment of one judge from each political party system within each state will affect the
member state. While the national governments are effectiveness of this process, and thus each state will
essentially checking each other’s power before the participate in the EU with different levels of
appointment even takes effect, the member state is national democracy depending on how accountable
still responsible for nominating its own justice. Once and responsive its national and EU representation
the justice sits on the court, the public knows little is. The democratic deficit of the European Union is
about his or her decisions; the court does not partially attributable to this variance in national
publicize which justices agreed with majority or level democracy. In addition, the lack of
dissenting opinions. The only output is the decision accountability of European representatives
itself.33 The ECJ is gradually expanding the policy encourages national governments to pass the blame
areas that are acceptable for the EU to regulate, and onto the EU. This adds to the democratic deficit
member states have little recourse except to change because it makes it harder for citizens to know
the treaties governing the ECJ (which is nearly whom to hold accountable.
impossible as of yet). Therefore, it is important for
Many of the problems outlined here actually show
the member governments and citizens to have
how a lack of information coming from European
information regarding the performance of their
institutions presents a problem to the national
representatives during the six years the justice serves
political parties; not having enough information
on the ECJ.34 While the job of a Justice on the ECJ
from the top to create the type of electoral
is to decide cases independently, it is unrealistic to
competition that the European Union needs to
assume that the nomination by a member state is
become more democratic. If the European Union
not strategic. This does not mean that the member
wants to task national parties with providing
governments should have the power to recall its
options, informing the public, engaging the media,
representatives erroneously since too much
and ultimately consolidating the opinions of the
politicization of a justice’s position would erode the
many into an effective policy platform of the
legitimacy of the ECJ. However, more transparency
member state, the parties will need more
in information from European Court of Justice
information from the European Council and the
would provide the member governments and the
European Court of Justice. This will likely help
political parties with the necessary insight to
promote electoral competition of European policy
nominate an individual who will meet the
issues, especially as these institutions are dealing
expectations of the strategy that precipitated his or
with more salient issues than in the past. However,
her nomination.
other methods will likely be necessary. Further
The ‘M’ Word – A Conclusion integration could be one mechanism of this, as
creating a common economic, historical, and
Considering the weaknesses of the core argument
political background could promote demos creation.
supporting indirect democracy within the EU, what
However, the varied democratic status of each
is the impact of political parties on the democratic
country’s political party system will still affect how
status of the European Union? With all three
well changes impact the function of the party system
institutions cited by Moravcsik, the goal is (or at
each country, only hopefully to a lesser extent.
least should be) to convey and defend the policy
preferences that the member states form. This To be clear, Latvia is not the problem. The
preference formation relies on the competition argument does not suggest that every European
among parties to provide options, inform the public, country’s political party system should be like
engage the media, and ultimately consolidate the Sweden’s in order to solve the issue of varied
opinions of the many into an effective policy qualities of electoral competition among the
member states; it could also be solved if every
33Caporaso and Tarrow, “Polanyi in Brussels,” 613. country’s party system worked like Latvia’s (albeit
34Scharpf, “Legitimacy in the Multilevel European creating other issues). Of course, this is unrealistic
Polity,” 178.

7
and undesirable considering each country’s varied Only considering the interaction between the
historical background. Furthermore, while this was electoral process and political parties is a quite
a comparison of just two countries, the argument narrow view of democracy and accountability.35
contends that comparing any two countries in the Ultimately, if the goal of the European Union is to
union will likely reveal discrepancies in the function be more democratic, and this should be one of its
and quality of the political party systems that lead to goals, direct and indirect democracy will require
the same problems with varied amounts of establishment through mechanisms beyond electoral
democracy affecting the European Union as competition. It is unrealistic to expect citizens of the
outlined above. EU to be able to manage all the issues the Union
addresses in a meaningful way at a ballot box every
Considering the assumptions applied to the national
couple of years. In reality, the EU will need to
governments regarding electoral competition and
investigate other outlets to improve indirect and
accountability as a means of empowering the
direct democracy. More transparency of the
electorate, the same standards do not apply to
European Council and the ECJ is a start, but it is
European Union yet. This is not to say that the EU
not enough. With a combination of a bottom-up
should be held to these standards, yet it seems that
and top-down approach, perhaps the European
more could be done to ensure popular sovereignty is
Union can move towards a more popularly
available both on the national and supranational
satisfactory democratic status.
level.

Gustavsson, The illusion of accountability in the European


35

Union, 23.

8
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