PhD defence: Emilija Tudzarovska Gjorgjievska

PLATO Early Stage Researcher Emilija Tudzarovska Gjorgjievska defends her doctoral thesis New understanding of EU legitimacy and anti-corruption: The role of the representative democracies at Charles University on 16 September 2021.

Emilija Tudzarovska Gjorgjievska, Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Political Sociology, Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences and PhD Candidate at the Department of Public and Social Policy, Charles University, will defend her PhD thesis New understanding of EU legitimacy and anti-corruption: The role of the representative democracies on 16 September 2021. 


  • Pavol Frič, Charles University
  • Zdenka Mansfeldová, Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Christopher Lord, ARENA Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo

Opponents (external reviewers)

  • Vladimíra Dvořáková, University of Economics, Prague
  • Michel Perottino, Department of Political Science, Charles University


  • Head of the committee: Arnošt Veselý, Charles University
  • Zdenka Mansfeldová, Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences


This research investigates the causal linkages between the EU democratic legitimacy, the process of Europeanisation, and the crises of representative democracies in the field of anti-corruption. In order to do so, it examines the necessary conditions under which national parliaments and political parties can provide for democratic legitimation and act as institutional guardians of representative democracies in the service of citizens, as a final source of legitimate authority. The weak role of party democracy in the broader EU context, the role of the national parliaments and weak law enforcement, particularly evident in Central-Eastern Europe (CEE), suggest a gradual hollowing out of democracies. However, the mutual reinforcement of corruption and the hollowness of democracy have remained under-acknowledged in the broader neoliberal context. The reasons behind this are a few, starting with the thick conceptualisation of corruption, the specifics of the CEE countries concerning party democracy, the party cleavages, and transformation of state sovereignty under the process of Europeanisation.

This research takes a different approach and sets the premise that corruption, as an old and negative phenomenon, was introduced on a greater scale by the liberalisation and deregulation of the financial markets in the 1990s, and has taken root in the increased hollowing out of representative democracies. The historical preconditions of communist regimes and the specifics of the process of Europeanisation (EU enlargement; the post-1989 period; the nation-state transformation to an EU member state; the EU technocratic approach in managing crises), are important features for understanding the contemporary crises of liberal democracies in the European Union, such as democratic backsliding, and the rise of populism.

This research, therefore, suggests a new logic of understanding the paradox of corruption through the lenses of state transformation, under the process of Europeanisation and the gradual hollowing out of democracies, bound to an unaccountable use of power. This research has identified that the oversight role of national parliaments, the political party transformation in CEE countries and the law-making process under EU legal harmonisation are key factors for understanding the challenges of democratic embeddedness on a nation-state and EU level. By using the comparative analysis of three paradigmatic cases of EU Member States (Croatia, Slovenia) and the EU applicant state (North Macedonia), based on document analysis and expert semi-structured interviews, the research has empirically examined the parliamentary capacity to exercise democratic accountability and provide for indirect legitimacy. It has been found that the difficulties in consolidating democracies are bound to the gradual disenchantment between citizens and their societies. The weak position of the national parliaments to exercise democratic accountability, the lack of internal party democracy and the questionable law-making processes do not allow for rooting out corruption from the political systems. The facades of legitimation exercised through the national parliaments indirectly affect the EU’s democratic legitimacy and create a loop of many contemporary challenges for representative democracies.

Published Aug. 28, 2021 10:23 AM - Last modified Sep. 6, 2021 10:51 AM