IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The problem of constitutional legitimation: what the debate on electoral quotas tells us about the legitimacy of decision-making rules in constitutional choice


  • Aris Trantidis

    () (European University Institute)


Abstract Proponents of electoral quotas have a ‘dependent interpretation’ of democracy, i.e. they have formed an opinion on which decision-making rules are fair on the basis of their prior approval of the outcomes these rules are likely to generate. The article argues that this position causes an irresolvable problem for constitutional processes that seek to legitimately enact institutional change. While constitutional revision governed by formal equality allows the introduction of electoral quotas, this avenue is normatively untenable for proponents of affirmative action if they are consistent with their claim that formal equality reproduces biases and power asymmetries at all levels of decision-making. Their critique raises a fundamental challenge to the constitutional revision rule itself as equally unfair. Without consensus on the decision-making process by which new post-constitutional rules can be legitimately enacted, procedural fairness becomes an issue impossible to resolve at the stage of constitutional choice. This problem of legitimation affects all instances of constitutional choice in which there are opposing views not only about the desired outcome of the process but also about the decision-making rules that govern constitutional choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Aris Trantidis, 2017. "The problem of constitutional legitimation: what the debate on electoral quotas tells us about the legitimacy of decision-making rules in constitutional choice," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 195-208, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:28:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10602-016-9233-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s10602-016-9233-7

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Baltrunaite, Audinga & Bello, Piera & Casarico, Alessandra & Profeta, Paola, 2014. "Gender quotas and the quality of politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 62-74.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:75:y:1981:i:03:p:701-716_17 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Campbell, Rosie & Childs, Sarah & Lovenduski, Joni, 2010. "Do Women Need Women Representatives?," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(01), pages 171-194, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Constitutional theory; Constitutional choice; Affirmative action; Formal equality; Substantive equality; Electoral quotas; Feminist theory; Calculus of Consent;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:28:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10602-016-9233-7. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.