Research Area Representative Democracy

In representative democracies, the way in which current political challenges are being handled is contingent upon the behavior of political intermediary organizations (political parties interest groups, social movements, NGOs) and state institutions (parliaments, governments, courts). It is argued that today political institutions in representative democracies only function formally and have in reality forfeited their political power to supranational structures and agents. Based on this finding the following question arises: How adaptable are national political institutions and elites in their problem-handling vis-à-vis political decisions taken by supranational unelected bodies and decision-makers (central banks, international organizations, financial markets)? Which implications does this adaptation have on political representation and the quality of democracy? In this context it is argued that national intermediary organizations, parliaments and governments perceive and handle the manifold global challenges in different ways which in turn bring forth different levels of democratic performance. For instance, there is a difference between small young democracies and large established democracies with regard to how these ‚stress factors’ are dealt with. On the other hand, this divergence in political reactions is complemented by processes of transnational diffusion which trigger processes of ‚policy learning’ and lead to the advancement of proven policies in small and young democracies and an increase of isomorphism in modern democracies. Neo-institutional approaches and theoretical considerations from the ‚delegation and accountability approach’  will be the basis for further investigating the relationship between democratic problem-handling, political representation, and the ‚survival chances’ of different types of democracy.