Comparative European Politics

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 70–86 | Cite as

Contested Meanings, Democracy Assessment and the European Union

  • Christopher Lord
Original Article


Much has been written on what contested meanings of democracy imply for attempts to evaluate the democratic performance of the European Union. But the converse question of what surveys of the democratic performance of the Union have to tell us about contested expectations of what would count as a democratic Union is also important. This article demonstrates why this is so using insights from the wider contested meanings project represented in this journal edition. It shows, in other words, that once it is accepted that normative and empirical claims are tightly coupled together in practice, and that this, in turn, plays itself out in contested standards, any evaluation of democratic performance requires the assessor to double back to a re-examination of the criteria from which the assessment started.


democracy norms consensus contestability 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Lord
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsThe University of ReadingUK

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