Law and the Political: Is there a place for democratic politics in Europe today?
Beyond the ever-present concern with the European “democratic deficit”, the handling of the current economic crisis has brought to light a much deeper political crisis. Strict adherence to austerity measures has all but confirmed the perception that the relevant decisions are no longer the province of national legislatures, or even subject to ordinary scrutiny and revision through the regular electoral process. In this scenario, we have witnessed the rise of technocratic governments, and of a certain distrust of democracy, where political leaders adopt decisions contrary to their electoral promises due to economic “imperatives”. The colonization of the public sphere by economic rationality may have emptied politics of its traditional meanings— a fact also underscored by the rise of populist movements across Europe.
At the same time, the eruption of popular movements can be read not as a rejection of politics, but as a struggle over alternative conceptions of the political. For example, despite the apparent lack of a coherent electoral programme, the recently elected representatives of the Five Star Movement in Italy will automatically lower by several years the average age of parliamentarians, and raise the participation of women by half, thus tackling several endemic problems in Italian politics. Likewise, in the wake of the Spanish “indignados,” an unprecedented popular legislative initiative has been launched to modify the mortgage law, which would significantly balance out the burdens and risks of loans between private owners and banks (money-lenders). To what extent could these be signs of an emerging repoliticization of the public sphere? This workshop aims to inquire into the changes and challenges these bring to law and politics. Issues to be considered include (not exhaustively):
Law and the Political
Law and the Public Sphere
Legal Dimensions of Politics
Dissensus and the Law
Democracy and Distrust
Constitutional Events/ Constituent Power/ Demos
Social Movements and the Law
Technocracy and Economic Rationality.
The working groups are presented in more detail on the following pages. We invite paper abstracts of a maximum of 1000 words. Each accepted presentation should last no longer than 20 minutes to enable discussion. Total time reserved for each presentation and discussion is approximately 30
minutes. Please send your abstract, CV and contact information by 31 May 2013 to firstname.lastname@example.org (please also contact for clarification or queries).
For a general overview of the Centre, please visit our homepage at
University of Helsinki / Helsingin yliopisto
OMM Graduate School
The Centre of Excellence in
Foundations of European Law and Polity
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