Addressing Europe’s democratic deficit: An experimental evaluation of the pan-European district proposal

André Blais, Damien Bol, Sona Golder, Philipp Harfst, Jean-François Laslier, Laura Stephenson, and Karine Van Der Straeten


Many academics and commentators argue that Europe is suffering from a democratic deficit. An interesting proposal that has been put forward to address this problem is to elect some members of the European parliament in a pan-European district. In this article, we evaluate this proposal using an online experiment, in which thousands of Europeans voted on a pan-European ballot we created. We find that the voting behaviour of European citizens would be strongly affected by the presence or absence of candidates from their own country on the lists. If a pan-European district is created, our findings provide an argument in favour of using a closed-list ballot and establishing a maximum number of candidates from each country on the lists.


Democratic deficit; electoral studies; European studies; pan-European electoral district; voting experiment;

JEL codes

  • C9: Design of Experiments
  • D72: Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

Published in

European Union Politics, vol. 17, n. 4, December 2016, pp. 525–545