2015 Democracy and Human Rights Other

Public Participation in Constitution Building; An Effective Strategy for Enhancing Democracy?

Abrak Saati

Scholarly work has not attempted to analytically differentiate between different types of participation. The term public participation is currently being used in a very wide sense and the proposed link between participatory constitution building processes and democracy has remained largely unexplored.

In order to understand if public participation in constitution building following war, following an institutional crisis or during a transition from authoritarian rule does lead to higher levels of democracy, 20 cases of participatory constitution building processes are compared to each other to i) illustrate how the practice of public participation has in fact varied extensively between the cases, and to understand ii) if more extensive forms of participation have led to higher levels of democracy.

The report was presented during the seminar Conflict, sexual violence and statebuilding in Sweden´s development cooperation.

Main findings

  • Participation, with or without influence, renders the same result: democratic improvement.
  • Public participation in constitution building, even when exercised in the same manner in different cases, can be followed by diametrically different developments: democratic improvement as well as democratic decline.

Abrak Saati is a researcher at the Department of Political Science, Umeå University. She defended her dissertation The Participation Myth: outcomes of participatory constitution building processes on democracy at Umeå University in May 2015.