The Unfreedom of the Moderns in relation the ideals of constitutional democracy

Modern Law Review 65 (2):204-228 (2002)
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The paper is a critical survey of the last ten years of research on the principles of legitimacy of constitutional democracy and their application in practice in Europe and North America. A constitutional democracy is legitimate if it meets the test of two principles: the principles of democracy or popular sovereignty and of constitutionalism or the rule of law. There are three contemporary trends which tend to conflict with the principle of democracy and thus diminish democratic freedom. There are three responses to the lack of legitimacy of these three trends. The first is to downplay the principle of democracy in order to endorse the three trends. The second is to uphold the principle of democracy, in the form of deliberative constitutional democracy, in order to criticise aspects of the three trends and to call for further democratisation. The third trend deepens this critical response by tying the test of democratic legitimacy more closely to case studies of attempts by citizens to exercise their democratic freedom.



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James Tully
University of Victoria

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