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A question of time: responsive and responsible democratic politics

  • Since 2008, European crisis politics have thrown the importance of time in democracy into sharp relief. The need for rapid action by national authorities, the EU and international organisations conflicts with the time-consuming nature of democratic deliberation; short-term political firefighting has given little consideration to the long-term sustainability and time consistency of policies; and decentralised decisions threaten effective synchronisation within multi-level governance systems. This article suggests that democratic politics requires a balance between the temporal characteristics of responsive and responsible politics. The timeframe for responsive politics is shaped by electoral cycles that encourage speedy action; short-term lags between political choices and their effects; and temporal discretion of decision-makers. The timeframe for responsible politics is characterised by time-consuming procedures; solutions that take time to unfold and are sustainable in the longer term; and the purposive synchronisation amongstSince 2008, European crisis politics have thrown the importance of time in democracy into sharp relief. The need for rapid action by national authorities, the EU and international organisations conflicts with the time-consuming nature of democratic deliberation; short-term political firefighting has given little consideration to the long-term sustainability and time consistency of policies; and decentralised decisions threaten effective synchronisation within multi-level governance systems. This article suggests that democratic politics requires a balance between the temporal characteristics of responsive and responsible politics. The timeframe for responsive politics is shaped by electoral cycles that encourage speedy action; short-term lags between political choices and their effects; and temporal discretion of decision-makers. The timeframe for responsible politics is characterised by time-consuming procedures; solutions that take time to unfold and are sustainable in the longer term; and the purposive synchronisation amongst actors and across policy domains and levels of policy-making. The finely balanced temporal constitution of democracy has been challenged in two fundamental ways. First, as the ability of decision-makers to work within the time limits of their mandates and to respond to the temporal expectations of the electorate decreases, the temporal ties that ensure the responsiveness of political authority to the electorate weaken. Second, the distinct temporal qualities of majoritarian and non-majoritarian institutions that encourage responsibility are called into question. Consequently, political time in Europe runs the risk of becoming both less responsive and less responsible.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Klaus Hermann GoetzGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2014.887880
ISSN:0140-2382 (print)
ISSN:1743-9655 (online)
Parent Title (English):West European politics
Publisher:Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Place of publication:Abingdon
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2014
Year of Completion:2014
Release Date:2017/03/27
Volume:37
Issue:2
Pagenumber:21
First Page:379
Last Page:399
Organizational units:Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Peer Review:Referiert