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Sara Aguilar-Suárez

Sara Aguilar-Suárez

Sara Aguilar-Suárez, MA candidate in the European Union and International Relations at Aston University

The promotion of Human Rights has been a key objective of the EU’s Foreign policy for decades. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty already established the promotion of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms as an aim of Foreign Policy (Crawford, 2008: 174). However, it was the Lisbon Treaty that ‘injected’ most unequivocally the promotion of HR into external action (Velluti, 2016: 42) as per article 21 of the Treaty of the European Union.

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The permissive consensus that characterised the formation and first decades of operation of the EU has progressively been replaced by the so-called ‘democratic deficit’, which has been defined as the fact that European citizens have few opportunities to influence EU policy outcomes and decisions or that the EU is not accountable enough to its citizens (McCormick, 2014: 104). This was particularly noticeable during the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty, which, after being rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands, was nonetheless mostly implemented with only minor changes through the Treaty of Lisbon. More recently, the democratic credentials of the Union have been further negatively affected by the economic crisis, given that since then the troika -unaccountable to citizens- has largely taken control of economic and monetary policy at the expense of elected institutions, such as the European Parliament (EP) (Fossum, 2014: 60-65).

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Following on from the previous post, Aristotle stated that there is a need to add a moral character (ethos) to moving (pathos) and logical narratives for leadership performance to come across as persuasive. Given the size of Britain, with over 60 million inhabitants, it would be difficult for everyone to meet a given politician; which is why not only rhetoric, but also the media’s coverage of leaders determines, to a great extent, their persona (Gaffney, 2001, 129).

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The highly unanticipated Brexit vote of June 2016 led to numerous explanations being put forward as to why the UK took such a dramatic decision, with a fear of globalisation and immigration being constantly identified as the main reason. However, little attention was given to one of the most prominent factors in shaping voters’ opinion, namely political leaders’ rhetoric.

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