Letter: Prerequisites for democracy in the EC

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Sir: Andrew Marr ('The kind of democracy Europe deserves', 18 May) is of course correct to say that for too many Europeans the EC is 'incomprehensible and remote'. But his remedy - making the Community more democratic - is not so 'breathtakingly simple'.

All political authorities strive for popular legitimacy, but democracy (ie, accountability through elections) is only a part of legitimacy. A sense of community must exist in the electorate, so that after an election the defeated minority nevertheless consents to a period of rule by the representatives of the majority.

The Europe-wide popular ambivalence towards Maastricht cited by Mr Marr is evidence that no such 'European Community' as yet exists. Would Britons, for example, submit to rule by the democratic European Parliament when only 36 per cent of British voters considered its previous elections, in 1989, worth voting in - and then to express opinions on the performance of the British government, not European issues? Democracy in the EC is fine, but it will be largely irrelevant until, and unless, a truly European public demands it.

Yours faithfully,


Burley, West Yorkshire