Published by Springer, 2023
Authors: Emilija Tudzarovka, Julia Rone
Edited by Julia Rone, Nathalie Brack, Ramona Coman and Amandine Crespy
Chapter in the book ‘Sovereignty in Conflict: Political, Constitutional and Economic Dilemmas in the EU’
This chapter starts from an apparent paradox. Key policy competences in economic governance have shifted to the supranational level within the European Union, since the Maastricht Treaty onwards. At the same time, calls and procedures for the national parliaments of member states to act up and provide scrutiny, accountability, and thus, legitimacy to EU policy-making have been on the rise. The surveillance role of the national parliaments, however, especially in the field of macro-economic policy, is rooted in an idealized vision of national parliaments. European integration has more often than not disempowered the parliaments of member states. Furthermore, we live in times of a profound crisis of party politics and a crisis of representation, with parliaments enjoying less and less trust from society. Both these developments trigger conflicts of sovereignty in national polities where different claims about where the final authority lies are clashing with each other. In the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, this has become particularly visible in Southern and Eastern Europe, where claims to popular sovereignty have strongly clashed with claims to parliamentary sovereignty. In the two paired comparisons analysed in this chapter—Greece and Slovenia, on one hand, Italy and Bulgaria, on the other—we interpret these sovereignty conflicts in a dialectic fashion: these conflicts are only caused by the weakening of parliaments, they also contribute to their further weakening, and therefore, further impeding their role of scrutiny in European multilevel governance. Against this background, a specific political praxis—identified as technopopulism—is gaining strength. Technopopulists, we find, invoke popular sovereignty to weaken parliaments and invoke parliamentary sovereignty to ignore the people. Ultimately, both popular and parliamentary sovereignty remain trapped in a technopopulist loop that not only reflects new conflicts of sovereignty but also exacerbates them, leading to a state of permanent crisis of democratic legitimacy.