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IACL World Congress, Mexico  
Workshop 1: Electoral systems and constitutional principles

Elections are an essential element of a democratic system. But electoral systems are not neutral. They reflect and reinforce many of the principles and values that underlie the constitutional order. Sometimes the influence of the electoral system on the constitutional order is obvious and deliberate. Sometimes it is not.

Moreover, there may be tensions between the principles underpinning an electoral system. For instance, principles promoting majority rule and those intended to give minorities a voice; principles promoting inclusiveness and those promoting stable government; principles promoting freedom of political expression and those promoting fair electoral campaigns.

This session will explore the relationship between electoral systems and constitutional principles and values. Among the issues that it will address are:

  • How electoral systems may work to strengthen or to challenge existing constitutional principles
  • What is the impact of electoral systems on divisions in society?  Do they promote political activities that bridge divides or reinforce group identity?
  • What are the ways in which different electoral systems work to include or exclude different groups in society (such as women and ethnic or other minorities)?  Is there a role for affirmative action in electoral systems?
  • In divided societies should simple majority rule be tempered to ensure a voice for minorities?
  • Is there a tension between the design of electoral systems to ensure the representation of all minorities (inclusiveness), and the design of systems to ensure stable, effective government?
  • The right to vote and qualifications for voting and how they may influence constitutional principles such as those concerning inclusiveness and citizenship, for instance, should prisoners have the right to vote?
  • Who decides whether an election is ‘free and fair’ using what criteria? What is the role of courts, particularly a constitutional court?
  • What is the impact of principles underlying electoral systems on the adjudication of electoral disputes?

These questions are not exhaustive. The workshop is open to those interested in these questions and others that concern principles and electoral systems.

Chairs:
Professors  Nadia Bernoussi [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] and Christina Murray [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]; and Judge Manuel Gonzalez Oropeza [c/o This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.].

Please address all queries in the first instance to Professor Murray

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