Against a ‘Dependent Interpretation’ of Democracy. What the Debate on Electoral Quotas Reveals About the Legitimacy of Decision-Making Rules
Constitutional Political Economy (2017), doi:10.1007/s10602-016-9233-7
17 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2019
Date Written: 2017
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.
Keywords: electoral quotas, affirmative action, dependent interpretation of democracy, politics of presence, constitutional choice, equality of result, substantive representation, women in politics, gender quotas
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