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Erman - Unsettling Stakeholders - Stockholm 2010

Erman - Unsettling Stakeholders - Stockholm 2010

Erman - Unsettling Stakeholders - Stockholm

1 Unsettling Stakeholders: Deliberative Global Governance and Problems of Democratic Agency Eva Erman (Draft version, please do not quote or circulate) *** Abstract In recent years, we have witnessed deliberative democracy take a ‘civil society turn’ to address the democratic deficit of global governance. In light of the present circumstances of world politics, it is argued that civil society offers a rich soil for reformulating democracy globally since it is inhabited by a growing range of social actors that create new deliberative political spaces, which are more suitable for confronting the globalized political problems that we face today. This paper engages in the debate on global democracy with particular focus on democratic agency. It investigates the concept of stakeholder built into this deliberative civil society approach with regard to its democratic qualities. This is done by problematizing a common feature underlying this view, here called the ‘separability premise’, which presumes that it is possible to define democracy as two or more separate core democratic qualities or features—more specifically, inclusive participation, accountability, authorization and/or deliberation—and that democracy increases the more one or more of these are strengthened. The paper defends the twofold thesis that this stakeholder is not equipped to be a democratic agent insofar as the deliberative civil society view does not fulfil two necessary conditions of democracy, namely, political equality and political bindingness. Further, it is argued that to the extent that we wish to hold on to a deliberative conception of democracy, Habermas’ discourse theory is still our best bet for accommodating these two conditions, also in an international or global context, even if this would mean to sidestep Habermas’ own hesitation towards globalizing his two-track view of democracy as well as settle for a decentralized cosmopolitan vision. *** In 1999, thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Seattle. Protesting against the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) lack of democratic legitimacy, civil society actors representing a wide range of perspectives and interests called for globalized democracy. Up until the beginning of the 1990s, the justification of international organizations (IOs) was mainly measured in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, but since then the political climate has drastically changed. Today, many scholars and practitioners agree that global governance institutions such as the WTO suffer from a ’democratic deficit’ and that prospects for democracy beyond the nation-state must be addressed in this context. In the academic debate there has been general dissatisfaction among empirically oriented political scientists and

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