Ireland’s Convention on the Constitution: deliberative democracy in action

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Author: Tatiana Vasilieva

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2022-6-46-71

Keywords: deliberative democracy; Citizens’ Assembly; Convention on the Constitution; amendments to the Constitution; referendum; Ireland


Ireland’s turn to the institutions of deliberative democracy was prompted by a political crisis arising from an economic crisis in 2008 and by the coming to power of a new government coalition. Also playing an important role in promoting these new institutions was the Irish Political Science Association, which held a public Citizens’ Assembly in 2011. Then a Convention on the Constitution exercised its powers from December 2012 to February 2014. The Convention included ordinary citizens and also Members of Parliament. The Convention considered eight issues that lacked unanimity within the government coalition or required broader support for a decision, and two issues that the participants determined on their own. All the issues fell into three groups: elections and political representation, human rights, and issues involving some departures from traditional values. The Convention on the Constitution functioned in a deliberative format and produced nine reports. Three national referenda were held and two amendments to the Constitution of Ireland were made on the basis of the recommendations of the Convention. The Convention on the Constitution is a new form of citizens’ participation in the constitution-making process, not applied in practice before. It showed the relevance and significance of constitutional issues for ordinary people and the possibility of their constructive discussion.

About the author: Tatiana Vasilieva – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Associate Professor, Chief Research Fellow, Human Rights Department, Institute of State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

Citation: Vasilieva T. (2022) Konstitutsionnoe sobranie v Irlandii: deliberativnaya demokratiya v deystvii [Ireland’s Convention on the Constitution: deliberative democracy in action]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 31, no. 6, pp. 46–71. (In Russian).


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