Multi-level governance, network governance, and, more recently, experimentalist governance are important analytical frameworks through which to understand democratic governance in the EU. However, these analytical frameworks carry normative assumptions that build on functionalist roots and undervalue political dynamics. This can result in a lack of understanding of the challenges that democratic governance faces in practice. This article proposes the analysis of democratic governance from the perspective of multiple political rationalities to correct such assumptions. It analyses the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in the Netherlands as a paradigmatic case study by showing how governmental, instrumental, and deliberative rationalities are at work in each of the governance elements that it introduces. The article concludes by discussing the implications of a perspective of multiple political rationalities for the understanding and promotion of democratic governance in practice.
- experimentalist governance
- multilevel governance