- - Monday, January 20, 2020

“Demoicracy” sounds like the way a New Yorker might pronounce democracy, but it is actually a very specific term used to describe the structure of the European Union (EU) and how it operates.

Demoi in Greek is the plural of demos, or people, and Kratos means power. So, a “demoicracy” describes democratic nations coming together to form a union.

The term was coined in 1998 by a Belgian political philosopher, Phillipe van Parijis, and was later developed by an Oxford professor, Kalypso Nicolaidis, to define the EU as, “a union of peoples who govern together but not as one.” 

A major cause of concern for Brexiteers is that the presidents and commissioners who make the laws in the EU are not elected. Its proponents argue this is a misguided fear because it is simply an association of countries — a demoicracy.

After all, people don’t get to vote on the leaders of NATO or the WTO or other multi-national organizations. 



The EU is viewed by these apologists as a collection of democratic countries, not a single federal entity. It may have legal supremacy over its member states’ legislatures but Remainers argue, so have many other international organizations. 

An example is how member governments are bound by rulings made by the U.N. Security Council. 

Explaining away its democratic deficit by claiming the EU is a demoicracy, is convenient and if it were true the U.K. might have stayed a member. The trouble is that it walks, swims and quacks just like a federal state. 

Brexiteers cite its flag, anthem, currency and fledgling army as evidence, along with the undeniable fact that every EU treaty has increased and centralized powers. 

Remainers in turn blame Brexiteers for separating the U.K. from its neighbors, who they feel are simply trying to build something bigger and better than the nation-state. 

Dialogue has been hard because neither side can agree on what the EU actually is. 

Many Remainers have concluded that national borders inevitably lead to wars. Yet, they don’t object to the imposition of EU borders, especially in Ireland. 

The French socialist co-founder of the European project, Jean Monnet, wrote in the midst of World War II, “There will be no peace in Europe if the States rebuild themselves on the basis of national sovereignty … The States of Europe must therefore form a federation.”

But, but Jean, it’s not a federation, it’s a demoicracy!

The Liberal Democrat Remainer, Lord Greaves, recently gave a chilling warning, “I am fearful that on January 31 some things may happen in some places which could be reminiscent of things happening in Germany in the early 1930’s.” 

Lord Greaves was comparing Brexiteers to Nazis and even his own colleagues criticized him for going too far. People voted “Leave” in order to restore democratic accountability, not to incite mob violence. 

The EU does have elections for its parliament, but this is not where the real power lies. Only the European commission can draft legislation and this body is not elected. It would then have to accept winning candidates who might want to take the EU in a different direction, Heaven forbid.

Socialists do have a problem with the second law of democracy — to accept the result even when it goes against them. Winning is so much easier and offers them the means to further their progressive agenda, but if they lose … well, take the last three-and-a-half years in America.

It was the same in the U.K. following the referendum, until the decisive election victory of Boris Johnson, the only battle now is on whether the Big Ben bell will be allowed to chime the event in on Jan. 31. 

Haggling over the EU deal will soon begin, but hopefully without the turmoil of last year. The process of building new and better bridges with Europe is crucial. We all need to find a way of getting on together and that is especially true between nations.

People exist and relate on many levels simultaneously — as individuals or in families, in communities or in nations, as members of supranational bodies, or being inhabitants and custodians of the world. 

Each level is like a developmental building block that supports and enables the ones above and below to function. Every one of them is important.

Under totalitarian regimes, individuals, families and communities are kept subordinate to the state and oppressed. In the USSR, that included nations.

By gradually increasing its sovereignty over member countries, the EU is moving state control up a level, but without the same degree of democratic checks. It is benign for now, but who knows what the future holds if the ballot box is not its boss?

Nation-states are where democracy has worked best so far. Whether they are good or bad, depends on who is in charge and how they got there.

• Andrew Davies is a U.K.-based video producer and scriptwriter.

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