Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. European Union: a democratic or a political deficit? – III. Conceptualizing accountability. – IV. Mechanisms of accountability in the EU and the EP elections. – IV.1. EU complexities. – IV.2. The deficiencies of electoral accountability. – V. Conclusion: from legitimacy to authority. – VI. Acknowledgments.
Abstract: This Article discusses the usefulness of the concept of accountability, and of electoral accountability more precisely, for the analysis of the European Union (EU). Starting from the idea that the EU does not suffer so much from a democratic deficit but rather from a political one, it argues that much more attention should be given to the concrete mechanisms through which EU decision-makers are held accountable. Among the latter, elections to the European Parliament (EP) are of special interest as they provide – at least in theory – the most direct channel for institutional accountability as well as the necessary incentives for political actors to act responsively. However, the declining turnout in European elections and the lack of knowledge of the EU on the part of voters reveal flaws in accountability at the EU level. The latter are attributed to the internal working of the EP and to certain features of the electoral system for the election of its members.
Keywords: accountability – democratic deficit – European elections – European Parliament – legitimacy – transparency.
* Associate Professor, Lille Catholic University, firstname.lastname@example.org.