In a perfect representative democracy, there is a democratic chain of delegation that links voters with their elected representatives and then onwards to the executive branch and finally to civil servants in the bureaucracy (Strøm 2000). But is this an accurate picture of foreign policy making in European parliamentary democracies? This question is especially important as regards negotiations between EU member states on whether they should transfer national competences to the EU level; something that can be termed EU constitutional politics. The paper utilizes a strong ‘least-likely’ case selection strategy to investigate whether bureaucratic politics actually matter, or whether liberal intergovernmentalism is correct in treating the state as a neutral transmission belt for societal preferences. The findings of the paper point towards some tentative support for the proposition that bureaucratic politics do matter, and that how positions are coordinated did have some independent impact upon national positions. But in the majority of issues, it does appear that the state was merely a transmission belt for executive priorities.
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Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, 2009