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Hans Kelsen on Party Democracy: Principles, Institutions, Reforms, and Challenges

Sat, November 4, 9:45 to 11:45am, Omni Parker Mezzanine, Gardener Room


The name of Hans Kelsen is conventionally synonym with one of the most prominent paradigms in 20th-century philosophy of law and jurisprudence. Especially for Anglo-American readers, referencing his work has traditionally meant evoking the theorist of the Grundnorm and, overall, a major representative of the broad and internally diversified family of legal positivists. However, this association, almost by default, between the name of Kelsen and his influential work in legal theory has eclipsed a basic fact: throughout his life, Kelsen wrote extensively on politics and democracy, and the relationship of both with the domain of law.
Over the past few years, also in the wake of the profound empirical transformations of Western democracies and the multiple challenges posed to representative institutions and political parties by populism, technocracy, and a widespread discontent with traditional forms of politics within and beyond the State, Kelsen’s ideas on party democracy have started receiving new attention.
This paper will excavate Kelsen’s political writings and his democratic theory to unearth the powerful, and still largely neglected, contribution they can make to normative debates on parties, partisanship, and representative democracy.