Democratising Europe Through Transnational Partisanship


The European Union is plagued by a disconnect between citizens and executives, which is adverse in its implications for democracy and representation. This project investigates a mode of collective agency that promises to help ordinary citizens gain democratic control of the EU — transnational partisanship. Transnational partisanship is an associative practice that is formed and sustained by individuals from different political spheres — individuals who seek to shape trans- or supranational political institutions in accordance with a particular interpretation of the common good. The project develops a normative concept of transnational partisanship on the basis of existing theoretical work on political parties and partisanship and a close study of real-world transnational partisan practices. It aims to show how citizens can form enduring associations with likeminded others from different political communities; how such group associations could succeed in mobilising political support along transnational lines; and how they can overcome common obstacles such as the absence of a transnational party system and a common language. It also considers whether lasting transnational partisan coordination can provide a pathway to supranational democracy in the EU, looking in particular at the capacity of transnational partisan agents to challenge the fundamentality of political identities that are tied to nation-states. Transnational partisanship was instrumental in bringing contemporary Europe about — can it also pave the way for genuinely democratising it?


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. F. Wolkenstein

Affiliated with

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften

Team members

Dr. F. Wolkenstein


01/10/2017 to 30/09/2020