Democratic accountability – a comparison

Just how undemocratic is the EU compared to the UK?  Well here’s a quick and dirty comparison – don’t hesitate to correct me if I’ve got something wrong, I’m not a political scientist nor a constitutional lawyer.



Edit – as @FrazerGoodwin points out, the table doesn’t tackle the whole issue of Royal Consent, and the role of the British monarchy in UK law-making.  In case you think that’s purely ceremonial, with no real impact on modern-day legislation, think again.

Edit (September 2017) – I wrote this piece a long time ago, long before any of us really imagined that the UK might vote to leave the EU. A lot has happened since I wrote it, and quite evidently my arguments have fallen on deaf ears, because democratic legitimacy is still cited as a key factor by many who voted to leave. One major change since 2013 was the introduction of the Spitzenkandidat procedure for the 2014 European Parliament elections. This now means that the leader of the EU’s executive (the President of the Commission) enjoys the same degree of legitimacy as the leader of the UK’s executive (the Prime Minister) – in fact – and I would argue more, in law, as the UK’s chief executive is the leader of the largest party only by convention and not by constitutional law.

4 thoughts on “Democratic accountability – a comparison

  1. Jon

    Well you do seem to have several things wrong; the prime minister is an elected member of parliament & elected by their party; they have to retain confidence of both to remain in power. The proof of the pudding is in the eating….. & prime ministers have fallen. The EU ….well it’s a jobs for life or as long as they want regime. Democracy? Never!

    1. Chris Kendall Post author

      There is no legal or constitutional requirement for the British Prime Minister to be an elected MP or elected by their party and there is precedent for this not being the case. The President of the Commission is chosen by national Heads of Government as the candidate of the largest political group in the European Parliament. Presidents of the European Commission have fallen (Santer) and can be dismissed by the European Parliament. Try harder.

  2. Jon

    EU PARLIAMENT: it’s a joke: an institution that commutes between Strasbourg & Brussels at huge expense & maximum inefficiency must be questioned. The fact it has got away with it for so long just shows priorities & accountabilities for both workings & resources. Whilst all EU member states have had to cut budgets the EU CAN ONLY SEE INCREASES

    1. Chris Kendall Post author

      The directly elected European Parliament has been trying for decades to end its monthly Brussels-Strasbourg commute and work from a #SingleSeat. The reason it can’t is down to Member State obstruction. The EU’s budget is agreed by EU Member States. Try harder.


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