The Mirage of Global Democracy

de Wilde, J. H., Feb-2011, In : European Review. 19, 1, p. 5-18 14 p.

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The literature about global democracy deals with two different types of democratization: Type 1 is about spreading democracy across sovereign states as the basis for good governance. It focuses on the quality of the state/society-nexus: the balance between coercion, reward and identity. Type 2 is about democratizing world politics as such. In its most concrete expressions it focuses on the relationship between international society (a community of states) and world society (a community of people). The contemporary structure of multilevel governance provides the rationale behind this: national democracies are ineffective in controlling essential centres of power. This implies a need to scale up democracy to global proportions. However, in Type 1 considerations the term democracy often is an empty shell. This blinds observers for checks and balances and types of pluralism in non-democratic states. It also blinds them for misuse of democratic claims in democratic states. Aspiring global democracy in terms of Type 2 ignores that the presence of a central authority is a precondition inherent to the concept of democracy. Democratic theory cannot escape and is consequently caught up in its preconditions of a people (demos) and a government (cratos).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2011

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