Democratic deficit

A democratic deficit (or democracy deficit) occurs when ostensibly democratic organizations or institutions (particularly governments) fall short of fulfilling the principles of democracy in their practices or operation where representative and linked parliamentary integrity becomes widely discussed.[1]

The phrase democratic deficit is cited as first being used by the Young European Federalists in their Manifesto in 1977,[2] which was drafted by Richard Corbett. The phrase was also used by David Marquand in 1979, referring to the then European Economic Community, the forerunner of the European Union.[3]


The UN Parliamentary Assembly has been proposed as a way of ameliorating a democractic deficit within the United Nations.[4]

Some scholars have argued that the ratification of European Union treaties by repeated referendums—such as those held in Ireland for the Treaty of Nice and the Treaty of Lisbon—is also associated with a democratic deficit.[5]


  1. "A democratic deficit occurs when ostensibly democratic organizations or institutions in fact fall short of fulfilling what are believed to be the principles of democracy." Sanford Levinson, How the United States Constitution Contributes to the Democratic Deficit in America, 55 Drake L. Rev. 859, 860 (2007).
  3. Marquand, David (1979). Parliament for Europe. Cape. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-224-01716-9. The resulting 'democratic deficit' would not be acceptable in a Community committed to democratic principles.
    Chalmers, Damian; et al. (2006). European Union law: text and materials. Cambridge University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-521-52741-5. 'Democratic deficit' is a term coined in 1979 by the British political scientist . . . David Marquand .
    Meny, Yves (2003). "De La Democratie En Europe: Old Concepts and New Challenges". Journal of Common Market Studies. 41: 1–13. doi:10.1111/1468-5965.t01-1-00408. Since David Marquand coined his famous phrase 'democratic deficit' to describe the functioning of the European Community, the debate has raged about the extent and content of this deficit.
  4. Commission of Latin American Parliament joins call for UN Parliamentary Assembly | Campaign for a UN Parliament
  5. The EU's Democratic Deficit and Repeated Referendums in Ireland

See also

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