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Political legitimacy between democracy and effectiveness: trade-offs, interdependencies, and discursive constructions by the EU institutions

  • Claudia S. Sternberg (a1)


This paper addresses the relationship between political legitimacy arising from a link with the ‘will of the people’, and political legitimacy arising from beneficial consequences for them. Questioning the common assumption of an inherent trade-off between ‘input’ and ‘output legitimacy’, it suggests that the two necessarily go together, and that their relationship is continuously reconstructed through discursive contestation. These claims are first substantiated conceptually, in reference to the legitimacy literature in European Union (EU) Studies, which is situated in the broader fields of Political Theory and Comparative Politics. In a second step, the argument is developed on the grounds of empirical case material: an interpretive, non-quantitative reconstruction of the changing discourses on EU legitimacy by the European institutions from the 1950s to the early 2000s.


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