Democratic constitution-making: reflections on the European experiment

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Series Details No.18, 2005
Publication Date 2005
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Laeken has ushered in the first continent-wide debate, on the issue of a European constitution. An important question is whether this amounts to Europe's constitutional moment in a critical normative sense. To address this we first distil out five core lessons from the Laeken experience. This serves to clarify which normative standards are relevant through reconstruction of those that actually informed the process. We find that the standards from normative theory are adequate, but that the complex European setting and experience throw up several thorny issues pertaining to how such a process can be organised, so as to comply with democratic norms, and whether it at all can be deemed to be representative. Our concern here is to shed light on how the tension between the idea of a constitutional moment and the notion of democratic representation can be resolved. To this end we develop a normative model of deliberative constitution making.

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