Unpacking Constitutional Democracy

Monographs by Christopher Thornhill ‘Democratic Crisis and Global Constitutional Law’, and by Linda Colley ‘The Gun, the Ship and the Pen’ were used to frame the discussion


Democracy is widely seen as being under threat. Our discussion reflected critically on how it is presented in both political rhetoric and academic debates. We pondered the socio-political origins of constitutions, their purpose in the historical context of state formation, and the evolving meanings and expectations attached to citizenship. Can populism be seen as an inevitable by-product of constitutional democracy as it is understood and ‘sold’ to the people? Does the dominant approach to democracy work in the era of globalization? Does the direct form of democracy reflect the essence of the democratic aspiration? And how can we reconcile the globalization of the values of human rights and international solidarity with the quintessentially nationalistic nature of constitutions? Those question became the focus of the discussion opened up by Chris Thornhill, Professor in Law at Manchester University, and Nick Barber,  Professor of Constitutional Law and Theory at the Oxford Faculty of Law.