The agonistic model of democracy and the European Union

European integration benefitted for much of the post-war period from a presumed ‘permissive consensus’ (Lindberg and Scheingold, 1970). Over the past two decades this permissive consensus weakened and the opposition towards European integration in the European Parliament rose at remarkable rates (Startin and Usherwoods, 2011; Serricchio et al., 2013) indicating the increased disaffection with European institutions (Brack and Startin, 2015). The Agonistic Model of Democracy (AMD) proposes that such disaffection results from the absence of agonistic confrontation in democratic systems (Mouffe, 2000: 85; 105). Yet, AMD has not been applied to the supranational context . Against this backdrop, this thesis applies AMD to the debate on the European integration. The aim thereof being to identify hegemonic practices, i.e. the prevalence of established opinions on European integration, opportunities for antagonistic discourse or lack thereof and the consequences for the European Parliament. To this end, poststructural discourse analysis is used to analyze linguistic data on the discourse on European integration (cf. Laclau and Mouffe, 1985). The thesis thus presents a narrative showing how too much emphasis on political consensus in the process of European integration fostered disaffection and ultimately weakened the institution itself.


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