Non-majoritarian Institutions: Two Strands of Liberalism in European Economic Governance

Rune Møller Stahl, Ben Rosamond

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One striking characteristic of the European Union as a political system is the prevalence of non-majoritarian institutions and forms of indirect or technocratic rule. Non-majoritarianism has been especially prevalent in the management of the Eurozone crisis and in the development of an EU regime of post-crisis economic governance. While it is tempting to understand this economic governance system as a playing out of neoliberal logics pure and simple, this article argues that the resort to coercive forms of non-majoritarianism reflects a deeper set of concerns that play out within a broader understanding of the trajectory of thinking on liberal government. The article traces the particular ways in which non-majoritarian solutions have been understood within the literature on European integration before contextualizing these in terms of three moments in liberal thought that seek, in distinctive ways, to counterbalance democratic logics: militant democracy, ordoliberalism and neoliberalism. The article stresses the continuities, rather than the contrasts between the embedded liberalism of the post-war era and the neoliberalism of recent decades. In so doing, it further suggests that a deeper understanding along these lines points not simply to a crisis of the neoliberal mode of policy-making in the EU, but rather to the potential unravelling of the foundations of the political-economic architecture set-up in the post-war moment.
TidsskriftComparative European Politics
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)709-730
Antal sider22
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2022

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 17 August 2022.


  • Non-majoritarian institutions
  • European union
  • Liberalism
  • Economic governance