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

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  • Aris Trantidis

    () (European University Institute)

Abstract

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
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    Keywords

    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

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