Miriam Johanna Schuler (KCL) - 2022-23 Students

An umbrella model for the protection of democracy in Europe? The role and interaction of judicial, political and civic actors in upholding democratic values in Europe

Against the background of the recent crisis of liberal democracy, my doctoral research focuses on the interaction of supranational courts with each other as well as their interplay with political institutions and civil society organizations. Specifically, my thesis analyses the cooperation between the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights and their interplay with political actors, such as the European Commission and the Venice Commission, as well as with selected civil society organizations: (How) does this interaction contribute to the protection of democracy? What conception of democracy is promoted and upheld by these actors on the supranational level? What constitutes “a successful defence of democracy” on the supranational level?

In a first part, my thesis aims to carve out and systemize the procedural, substantial, normative and theoretical interactions between the relevant actors. On this basis, the second part of my thesis will critically analyse these interactions from a legal and theoretical perspective. The third part will examine the systemic and theoretical limitations of a supranational militant democracy. The goal of this research is to map out a strategy for defending democracy ‘from above’ (through law) and ‘from below’ (through civil society). This implies defining conditions for each actor to work together and of making the best possible use of their synergy effects. However, this also means to gain an understanding of what conception of democracy a so-called “transnational militant democracy” aims to protect and what challenges such a transnational umbrella model poses to the nation state.

Primary supervisor: Eva Pils, KCL
Secondary supervisor: Dr Darren Harvey, KCL

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