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POLS 110 (391)
Lecture

March 7, 2013- Relocating Sovereignty.docx

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Department
Political Studies
Course
POLS 110
Professor
Jonathan W Rose
Semester
Winter

Description
Relocating Sovereignty  Relocating sovereignty: “the people”, democracy and the legislature  Key for this relocation is the legislature  The difficulties: 3 questions o Who are “the people”? o How many of the people does it take to make a decision for the community?  Unanimity?  Impossible  Clear majority?  Plurality?  Minority? o How are they able to put their sovereignty into practice Operationalizing the Demos  How is their possession of supreme political authority by the people to be put into practice? o Direct Democracy?  If in fact all political power belongs to the people, then the people can directly exercise their power  Citizens actually exercise authority and power: they are the government  Only works for tiny political communities, but the moment you go and create a larger political community this is an impossibility o Participatory Democracy?  Best you can hope for when a political community grows  Citizens participate in the process of decision  Town hall in New England in the 1600s (everyone met to make decisions) or Athens o “Non-Participatory” Democracy?  Referenda, initiative, elections  Tries to involve the citizens, but not in the same way as participatory democracies  Non-participatory ways in which you can involve the citizen  Each of these mechanisms or tools has really problems when it comes to the people  It seems to involve the many in the making of a decision but this is largely illusory  Each of these mechanisms don’t really involve the citizenry; their involvement is superficial  A referendum only looks to be democratic as the many have an opportunity to weigh in on the issue, but every referendum is highly manipulative in that it gets written by particular individuals who know what outcome they want o Referendum in Quebec in 1980 and 1995; both times it was initiated by the Parti Quebecois; they knew if they asked a blunt question like “Do you favour Quebec” you were not going to win so the question was ambiguous o Referendum in Australia in 2000 about whether they wanted to abandon the monarchy and create a Republic instead. Most Australians favoured a Republic, but the man as the leader of the party was a monarchist, and wanted the question to fail  Howard asked how the Queen would be replaced, and Australia could not agree on what should be the new head of state  In many places the citizens do not want to have the constant responsibility for making political decisions (big and small); most people do not want to be full time politicians o Representative Democracy?  Exists because of the impossibility of the other democracies  Citizens choose delegates to exercise power and authority on their behalf  Only works when two conditions are observed  Those who delegate authority have to consent to it o The consent of the governed o The problem is that when you become a member of the political community you are not asked for consent o One is not asked for consent to be governed in this particular system of using one’s sovereignty o The consent of the governed doesn’t exist; is symbolic o Operates purely on the basis of a hypothesis; it is assumed you consent o There are lots of examples where individuals will withdraw their consent in violent manners because every political order makes it impossible to express dissent without taking up arms o States make it extremely costly and illegal to dissent  T
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