Legitimacy and Governance Implications of the Increased Politicisation and Polarisation of the European Public Sphere

Dr. Luis Garcia
Panel Code
Closed Panel

The European election 2019 have been surprising in more than one account. The most obvious one is the sharp rise in electoral participation, in particular by young people, but the fact that the populist and Eurosceptic surge has not been confirmed has also surprised some observers. However, the panel will address a third surprising dimension that has retained less attention, but which may have longer-term consequences: a more polarised competition for office and a wider range of modes of politicisation. We seek to analyse and discuss whether the results of the election have been influenced by a stronger dichotomous polarisation between "pro-European" and "euro-sceptic" discourses and / or whether other forms of politicisation have been observed, at the policy, politics or polity level.
In proposing this analysis, we assume that the forms of politicisation and polarisation have governance and legitimacy implications. To start with, a polity-centred polarisation may decrease the margin for subsequent dissent on policy choices by fostering majorities only along the lines of the consensus among pro-European groups. In terms of legitimacy, this type of polarisation may have been beneficial for the EU institutions and project thanks to an increased participation and a wider range of options, but it may also contribute to a politicisation of the institutions and rules of the game leading to democratic disruptions. The EU output legitimacy may also be affected by the governance effects if this leads to more difficulties in policy making and policy implementation.
The panel includes theoretical and empirical contributions (qualitative and quantitative) analysing the effects of the 2019 election from the medium and long-term public sphere perspective. This panel is proposed by members of the multinational and interdisciplinary Jean Monnet Network OpenEUdebate and will ensure a diverse representation of scholars from different generations, regions of Europe and genres.