The Blog

The EU Is Undemocratic - And That's Why We Must Vote to Leave

The fundamental problem with the European Union - and why people should vote to leave it on June 23rd - is that it is undemocratic. The executive of the EU is the European Commission. We have never voted the members of this body into power, nor can we vote to remove them. Rather, they are appointed to their role. At the same time, the European Parliament - the only part of the EU that is directly elected by the people of Europe - is a toothless parliament that is unable to propose laws and legislation.

Democracy, in practical terms, means that people get to elect those who propose and decide the laws that govern them. Democracy means that those with the power to formulate the laws that govern a certain territory must face regular elections, voted in by the inhabitants of said territory. The power and unelected nature of the Commission means that the EU is undemocratic.

Those that wish to stay in the EU respond to this fact by pointing out that the European Commission is collectively appointed by nationally elected governments from each member state, and that the European Parliament has the ability to amend and block legislation. This is all true. But this still does not make the EU democratic.

The point is that laws within the EU do not emanate from representatives of the people, but appointed technocrats. That is not democratic. None of us has the power to select or dismiss these commissioners. They do not formulate law as representatives of the demos. They face no threat of being dismissed by the electorate, should they propose laws we do not like.

The appointment system is intended to insulate them from the supposed wild passions of the electorate. This is the theoretical justification for how the EU works. And it is plainly undemocratic. Why else is the EU structured so as not to allow direct representatives of the people, selected through the ballot box, to propose policy? In a democratic system, we elect representatives to formulate law on our behalf, not to outsource that power to someone else on their behalf.

The fact that the European Parliament can amend and vote against legislation is also insufficient. What kind of a parliament is unable to propose legislation? What we have here is an unelected body proposing laws and a parliament that is then allowed to look over and try to amend those laws. This reduces a parliament to simply a watchdog over an unelected executive - in this case, the European Commission. The elected representatives merely have a chance to "participate" in lawmaking; they do not have overriding authority. Sovereignty - or supreme authority - is not with the people.

None of this is to say that the UK's system of government is perfect. But it is undeniably more democratic. No one has the right to sit in the House of Commons and propose laws without being elected by the people in the part of the country they are supposed to represent. No Prime Minister can maintain his position of power without commanding the support of a majority of democratically elected Members of Parliament. Every five years the electorate has the chance to throw out every single member of the House of Commons, and elect new representatives in their place. It is this - the ability of people to peacefully remove those with power, from power - that is so vital about democracy. And that's why it is so vital we vote to leave the EU.