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decisions and a genuine competition between government and

opposition which is transparent for citizens, can come about”

(Eriksen & Fossum, 2011: 159). In fact, it is astonishing how much

the observation by Weiler et al. nearly two decades ago that, “[i]n

its present state, no one who votes in the European elections has a

strong sense at all of affecting critical policy choices at the

European level and certainly not of confirming or rejecting

European governance” still holds true after the Treaty of Lisbon

(Weiler, Haltern, & Mayer, 1995: 9). A parliament that perfectly

represents the will of the people is a utopian dream


in even the most democratic countries constantly fall short of that

ideal. The problem with the EP is not that it fails to represent

perfectly the will of the European people, but rather that, on the

top of increasingly problematic national representative legislatures,

an even less democratically representative, supra-national body

possessing legislative power exceeding those of national

parliaments is imposed.

(B) Empirical Assessment

Has the Treaty of Lisbon empowered an institution whose

legitimacy is in serious question, particularly in relative terms

compared to national parliaments? According to a survey in the UK

conducted at the eve of the 2014 European Elections, over 52% of

respondents could name their MP, and 31% could name their local

councillors. But only 11% said they were able to name a MEP in

their region (Coman & Helm, 2014). Similarly, only 9% of those

surveyed in the Dublin city center could name any of their three

MEPs, a figure likely above the Irish average given that Dublin is

the capital (O’Connell, 2013). Even in Germany, where voters are

supposedly well informed and sophisticated about EU politics,

Berlin was about the only city where EU election posters could be

seen along the streets. Fearing that EU politics would be too boring

for the audience, German public television had to push a televised

debate among top candidates for the European elections from ARD