EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Are EU Exit Referenda Good for Democracy?

Referenda are important instruments of democratic politics. They have been used since the late eighteenth century in various circumstances of political life, most often in relation to constitutional change or issues of self-determination. In contemporary democratic societies, there is pressure to submit contested political questions to popular vote, in order to reduce tensions between popular will and governance. Even democratic governments which are not constitutionally obliged to do so now feel compelled to consult the people directly. 

Brexit, the UK’s referendum on whether to stay in the EU, reflects this tendency. It is not the first referendum on EU matters. And yet, there is novelty here: the people were deciding directly whether to leave an organization of democratic states, …

EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

An Anniversary of Crimea Takeover: Borders and the Crime of their Violation

A year ago, Russia occupied Crimea, staged a disputed referendum about seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia, and annexed it to its territory. In postwar history, the annexation of a part of a sovereign country’s territory to the aggressor state has no precedent. There have been several occupations, invasions and secessions since 1945. But until a year ago no part of sovereign state was forcibly acquired by another state and made part of its sovereign territory. …