HomeReferendums and the European democratic ideal

Referendums and the European democratic ideal

La pratique référendaire et l'idéal démocratique européen

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Published on Monday, December 17, 2012 by Elsa Zotian

Summary

There has most definitely been a renewed interest in referendums in Europe. Over time, some countries such as Switzerland have fully integrated this form of popular ballot into their political practises while others, having scarcely used them in the past, are turning to them more and more. Given that the absolute purity of referendums contrasts sharply with the imperfections of representative democracy, they are often considered to be the impassable horizon of the democratic ideal. In this sense, they can be considered to be the essential expression of democratic will. Yet referendums are more frequently referred to in political discourse than they are actually put into use.

Announcement

Argument

There has most definitely been a renewed interest in referendums in Europe. Over time, some countries such as Switzerland have fully integrated this form of popular ballot into their political practises while others, having scarcely used them in the past, are turning to them more and more. Given that the absolute purity of referendums contrasts sharply with the imperfections of representative democracy, they are often considered to be the impassable horizon of the democratic ideal. In this sense, they can be considered to be the essential expression of democratic will. Yet referendums are more frequently referred to in political discourse than they are actually put into use: should this indicate that the legitimacy of such ballots is subjected to limits imposed by the rule of law and the culture of each country? In the same vein, who should be allowed to vote during referendums, how are they organised and above all, what sort of questions can be put to popular referendums?

To attempt to address these questions, this international symposium will present an overview of how referendums are used in Europe. We will also endeavour to outline the specific nature – if any - of referendums in Europe and assess the role they can play as part of the mechanisms used to enhance direct and/or participative democracy.

In partnership with the Fédération des Civilisationnistes (FE2C) which brings together civilisation specialists from the universities of Poitiers, Tours, Limoges, La Rochelle and Clermont-Ferrand, the research team l’EHIC (Espaces Humains et Interactions Culturelles EA 1087 : http://ehic.univ-bpclermont.fr/) is hosting an international symposium on June 6th and 7th, 2013 at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Clermont-Ferrand, 4 rue Ledru. Please find below guidelines for paper proposals.

There has most definitely been a renewed interest in referendums in Europe. Over time, some countries such as Switzerland have fully integrated this form of popular ballot into their political practises while others, having scarcely used them in the past, are turning to them more and more. Given that the absolute purity of referendums contrasts sharply with the imperfections of representative democracy, they are often considered to be the impassable horizon of the democratic ideal. In this sense, they can be considered to be the essential expression of democratic will. Yet referendums are more frequently referred to in political discourse than they are actually put into use: should this indicate that the legitimacy of such ballots is subjected to limits imposed by the rule of law and the culture of each country? In the same vein, who should be allowed to vote during referendums, how are they organised and above all, what sort of questions can be put to popular referendums?

To attempt to address these questions, this international symposium will present an overview of how referendums are used in Europe. We will also endeavour to outline the specific nature – if any - of referendums in Europe and assess the role they can play as part of the mechanisms used to enhance direct and/or participative democracy.

Papers on – but not limited to - the following subjects would be welcome:

  • The theory and practise of referendums (plebiscites, popular votes, local referendums, etc.).
  • How referendums are used in Europe.
  • Constraints imposed by national, European or international law on referendums.
  • Referendums: from rhetoric to reality.
  • The role played by referendums in the European democratic ideal.

Submission guidelines

Paper proposals (300 word summary & short biography of author) should be submitted to

Marc Fourches: Marc.FOURCHES@univ-bpclermont.fr & Timothy Whitton: twhitton@club-internet.fr

before December 31st 2012.

Acceptance will be notified by January 31st 2013 at the latest.

After examination by the scientific board, a selection of papers will be published in the FE2C’s future series.

Languages of the conference : French and English

Calender

Deadline for submission of proposals: 31 December 2012

Notification of acceptance:  31 January 2013

Date of conference: 6 & 7 June 2013 – Place : MSH, 4 rue Ledru, Clermont-Ferrand

Conference registration fees

  • University teachers and researchers: 50euros
  • PhD students: 20 euros
  • Other students: free

Scientific board

  • Susan Finding (Université de Poitiers),
  • Trevor Harris (Université de Tours),
  • Michaela Symington (Université de La Rochelle),
  • Said Ouaked (Université de Limoges),
  • Martine Spensky (Université de Clermont-Ferrand II),
  • Marc Fourches (Université de Clermont-Ferrand II),
  • Timothy Whitton (Université de Clermont-Ferrand II).

Places

  • Maison de la Recherche - 4 rue Ledru
    Clermont-Ferrand, France (63)

Date(s)

  • Monday, December 31, 2012

Keywords

  • référendums, pratique référendaire, Europe

Contact(s)

  • Timothy Whitton
    courriel : twhitton [at] club-internet [dot] fr

Information source

  • Timothy Whitton
    courriel : twhitton [at] club-internet [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Referendums and the European democratic ideal », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, December 17, 2012, https://calenda.org/232243

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