Jan-Werner Müller, Princeton University

Europe’s Other Democracy Problem: Should Brussels Protect Democracy and the Rule of Law Inside EU Member States?

Mon, 09/22/2014
301 Marx Hall
Event Category: 

Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Jan-Werner Müller, Professor of Politics at Princeton, who will present "Europe's Other Democracy Problem: Should Brussels Protect Democracy and the Rule of Law Inside EU Member States?"  His commentator is Lisa L. MillerAssociate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University.

As always, the LAPA format asks that seminar participants familiarize themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator will open the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception in the Kerstetter Room, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Abstract:  "Against the background of recent developments in Hungary and Romania, the article discusses the question whether the European Union ought to play a role in protecting liberal democracy in EU Member States. First, it is argued that the EU has the authority to do so, both in a broad normative sense and in a narrower legal sense (though the latter is more likely to be disputed), as the entire EU constitutional order is premised on the Member States being proper liberal democracies. The article then asks whether the EU has the actual capacity to establish a kind of supranational militant democracy; here it is argued that at the moment both appropriate legal instruments and plausible political strategies are missing. To remedy this situation, the article proposes a new democracy watchdog, analogous to, but more powerful than, the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. Finally, it is asked whether EU interventions to safeguard liberal democracy would provoke a nationalist backlash in the Member States concerned. There is insufficient empirical evidence to decide this question, but there are some reasons to believe that the danger of such a backlash tends to be overestimated."

Jan-Werner Müller is a Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and also serves as Founding Director of the Project in the History of Political Thought.  His latest publications are Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe (Yale, 2011) andWo Europa endet: Brüssel, Ungarn und das Ende der liberalen Demokratie (Suhrkamp, 2013).  He is at work on a new history of the idea of ‘Christian Democracy’ as well as a book on populism.  His public affairs commentary appears in Foreign AffairsThe GuardianSüddeutsche Zeitung, and the London Review of Books, among others.  

Lisa L. Miller is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. Her research interests are in law, social policy, inequality, crime and punishment. Her most recent book, The Perils of Federalism: Race, Poverty and Crime Control (Oxford, 2008), explores the relationship between the peculiar style of American federalism and the substantial inequalities in criminal victimization and punishment across racial groups in the U.S.  Her work has appeared in Law and Society Review, Perspectives on Politics, Criminology and Public Policy, Policy Studies Journal, Law and Social Inquiry, Theoretical Criminology, Tulane Law Review, among others. Her current book, near completion, is a comparative study of the relationship between the institutional features of democratic systems and the politics of crime and punishment.  She is also working on a project exploring how constitutional designs structure political opportunities for mass publics. In 2012-2013, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Program in Law and Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. In 2011-2012, she was Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at the University of Oxford.