PODCAST | De-presentation: Ostracism and the concept of negative representation

This is a recording of the Democracy Futures Seminar presented by Dr Anthoula Malkopoulou on 1 April 2015

As a result of increasing social inequalities, many democracies today witness a rise of far-right movements that challenge the essence of democratic government and political antagonism. Traditionally, the response to such phenomena has been either too soft involving a denial and submission, or too strong, through the curtailment of free speech and criminalization of political parties. Whichever the response, this situation is problematic, because it thrusts responsibility for protecting the rules of the democratic game to the game’s players, who may be tempted to use that leverage to their own advantage.

Anthoula argues that the optimal solution to this puzzle is to extend responsibility for protecting democracy to the very source of political authorization, the demos. Granting citizens a special right to intervene in political struggles and to ostracize, i.e. to remove from power, elected officials offers a preemptive remedy against the emergence of subversive forces. Furthermore, it provides an opt-out to the convention that has elected parliamentarians represent the whole nation including voters who did not choose them. Instead, citizens are granted a right not to be represented by particular parties or individuals, a right of de-presentation.

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