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The democratic deficit of the G20

2021 | Sören Hilbrich | Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

The democratic deficit of the G20


In the last few decades, the democratic credentials of global governance institutions have been extensively debated in the fields of international relations and political philosophy. However, despite their prominent role in the architecture of global governance, club governance institutions like the Group of Seven (G7) or the Group of Twenty (G20) have rarely been considered from the perspective of democratic theory. Focussing on the G20, this paper analyses its functions in international political practice and discusses whether, in exercising these functions, the G20 exhibits a democratic deficit. As a standard of democracy, the analysis uses the all-affected principle, according to which all those who are affected by a policy decision should be given the opportunity to participate in decision-making. This paper identifies several democratic shortcomings of the G20, for instance related to the exclusion of citizens of non-member states and a lack of parliamentary and public control. By describing realisable reforms that could to some degree alleviate these shortcomings, it is shown that more democratic institutional alternatives are feasible. Thus, the ascription of a democratic deficit to the G20 is warranted.




German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik