Asymmetric ratification standards and popular perceptions of legitimacy

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The ratification of EU agreements is characterized by the application of different democratic procedures across member states. Building on the demoi-cratic theory of legitimate global governance, I argue that citizens benchmark their national procedure against highly visible direct democratic ratification votes held in other member states. If citizens experience unequal influence on EU decision-making, the perceived legitimacy of the EU regime erodes. I test this argument with a research design that combines a population-based survey experiment and a quasi-experiment. First, a survey experiment in Germany reveals that information about asymmetric ratification standards decrease fairness perceptions and satisfaction with EU democracy. Second, a natural experiment around the 2005 French vote on the EU constitutional treaty shows that the referendum decreased satisfaction with EU democracy in states with pending and indirect ratification. These findings suggest that asymmetric access of citizens to EU decision-making can decrease popular support for EU governance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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