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Dates and Times

03 October 2023
11:00 - 12:00


Building: 24
Room: Fishbowl


Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance


Hoi Kong

Deliberative Democratic Constitutional Referendums

This event is hybrid. Join us on Zoom or at Building 24, University of Canberra.

Deliberative Democratic Constitutional Referendums

Referendums are often associated with theories of democracy in contrast to deliberative democracy. Deliberative democratic theorists have argued that referendums reflect an aggregative understanding of democracy, in which outcomes reflect and merely aggregate voters’ pre-formed opinions.  Some of these theorists also note that referendums are susceptible to populist manipulation whereby democratic-seeming procedures such as referendums are conscripted—in contexts that lack a thriving public sphere—to achieve authoritarian ends.  I will argue against this tendency to associate referendums with aggregative and populist approaches to democracy.  I offer instead a deliberative constitutionalist theory of referendums and I will illustrate this argument by drawing on the Canadian experience.

This seminar will be chaired by Adele Webb.

Additional Information

About the speaker

Professor Hoi Kong is the inaugural holder of The Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, P.C., UBC Professorship in Constitutional Law, which he assumed in 2018.  He is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s Program on Constitutional Studies and a Peter Wall Scholar (2020-2021).  He researches and teaches in the areas of constitutional, administrative, municipal and comparative law, and constitutional and public law theory.  

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