The purpose of a world parliament is to hold the international bodies to account. It is not a panacea. It will not turn the IMF or the UN Security Council into democratic bodies: as they are controlled by the veto powers of their major shareholder and permanent members, nothing but abolition and reconstruction could do so. But it does have the potential to impose a check on them. It wields no army, no police force, no weapons, no ready-made powers. Instead, it possesses something that none of the other global bodies have: legitimacy. One of the surprising lessons of history is that undemocratic organisations are often obliged to grant powers to democratic ones, to try acquire some retrospective legitimacy. Why else was the European parliament established? Why else have its powers been enhanced, despite the centralising tendencies of the European Council?
Those who claim, like the British eurosceptics, that regional or global decision-making is unnecessary are living in a world of make-believe. No political issue now stops at the national border. All the most important forces – climate change, terrorism, state aggression, trade, flows of money, demographic pressures, the depletion of resources – can be addressed only at the global level. The question is not whether global decisions need to be made. The question is how to ensure that they are made democratically. Is there any valid answer other than direct representation? READ MORE