The essence of democratic backsliding in the European Union: deliberation and rule of law
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of European Public Policy. 2020, . 10.1080/13501763.2020.1855465
This paper analyzes recent trends of democratic backsliding within the European Union (EU). While some scholars highlight threats to the rule of law and judicial independence as the key development and problem, others focus on elite discourse and partisan competition. We provide a comprehensive analysis of the essence of democratic backsliding by analyzing changes between 1990 and 2019 on key indicators of democracy – polyarchy, liberalism, participation, deliberation and egalitarianism – documented in the V-Dem dataset, within the European Union. We find that democratic backsliding at its core is structured by a deterioration of the quality of deliberation. Deliberation is also the component where EU member states differ amongst each other the most and which has featured the greatest deterioration in recent years. We conclude by spelling out the implications this has for EU policy.