Recent social and political developments, including the Brexit referendum result and its xenophobic aftermath in the UK, the presidential elections in the United States, anti-democratic state policies in Hungary and Poland, as well as the political climate of upcoming elections in France and the Netherlands, have all underlined the topicality of the relationship between democracy and popular sovereignty. What is ‘the people’? What is the popular sovereignty that supposedly underlies all democratic regimes? When does democratic politics become ‘populistic’? Is ‘populistic’ politics always necessarily anti-democratic, and if so, why? Is a ‘progressive’ variant of populism possible? What are the limits of popular self-determination in a democracy? Can the constituent popular sovereign ‘do no wrong’? How does one oppose anti-democratic populistic tendencies with democratic means? Is democracy a value that can even justify exceptional means?
The symposium, taking place on 21–23 June 2017 in Helsinki, and organized by the Political Constitutional Theory (PolCon) network (http://blogs.helsinki.fi/politicalconstitutionaltheory/), will address these and related questions on the troubled relationship between democracy and ‘the people’ from a variety of angles.
Confirmed keynote speakers: Christa Davis Acampora (Hunter College, CUNY, USA), Benjamin Arditi (UNAM, Mexico) and Hans Lindahl (Tilburg University, the Netherlands).
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