Europe’s centripetal democracy: the lingua franca thesis revisited

  • Maria Elisabeth TiggelaarEmail author

Book reviewed:

Centripetal Democracy; Democratic Legitimacy and Political Identity in Belgium, Switzerland, and the European Union

Joseph Lacey (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017), 312 pp. ISBN: 978-0198796886

In the nineteenth century, the idea that a lingua franca (one common language) could solve challenges concerning the democratic legitimacy and political identity of political systems motivated the Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist L.L. Zamenhof to create the easy-to-learn language ‘Esperanto’: ‘Were there but an international language, all translations would be made into it alone… and all nations would be united in a common brotherhood’ (Zamenhof 1889, introduction). Today, Joseph Lacey continues in this mind-set by addressing the Lingua Franca Thesis (LFT), which holds that ‘the less linguistically unified a political community, the more problematic is the establishment and sustainability of a democratically legitimate regime’ (Lacey 2017, p. 5). In short, Centripetal Democracy...



  1. Lacey, J. 2017. Centripetal democracy: Democratic legitimacy and political identity in Belgium, Switzerland, and the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Scholar
  2. Van Parijs, P. 2000. Must Europe be Belgian? On democratic citizenship in multilingual polities. In Demands of citizenship, ed. Catriona McKinnon and Iain Hampsher-Monk. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  3. Zamenhof, L.L. 1889. An attempt towards an international language. New York: H. Holt.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Copenhagen UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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