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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2016 x
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Access_open ‘Should the People Decide?’ Referendums in a Post-Sovereign Age, the Scottish and Catalonian Cases

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 2 2016
Trefwoorden sub-state nationalism, referendums, sovereignty, deliberative democracy, Scottish referendum
Auteurs Stephen Tierney
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article uses the rise of referendum democracy to highlight the tenacity of modern nationalism in Western Europe. The proliferation of direct democracy around the world raises important questions about the health of representative democracy. The paper offers a theoretical re-evaluation of the role of the referendum, using the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence to challenge some of the traditional democratic criticisms of popular democracy. The final part of the paper addresses the specific application of referendums in the context of sub-state nationalism, addressing what might be called `the demos question'. This question was addressed by the Supreme Court in Canada in the Quebec Secession Reference but has also been brought to the fore by the Scottish reference and the unresolved issue of self-determination in Catalonia.


Stephen Tierney
Stephen Tierney is Professor of Constitutional Theory at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law.
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