Must Europe Be Swiss? On the Idea of a Voting Space and the Possibility of a Multilingual Demos

Joseph Lacey


Contrary to the view that linguistic homogeneity is required to create a viable demos, this article argues that linguistic diversity can be a permanent feature of any democratic community, so long as there is a unified and robust voting space that provides a common intentional object, around which distinct public spheres can aesthetically organize their political discourse. An attempt to explain how such a voting space operates in Switzerland, the finest existing exemplar of a multilingual demos, is given. Following the Swiss example, the author proposes, would go a long way to constituting the European Union as a democratically legitimate trans-national demos, despite its formidable linguistic diversity.