A New Form of Direct Democracy: Constitutional Conventions in the Digital Era

Silvia Suteu

Research output: Working paper


There has been renewed interest in mechanisms of constitutional change in recent years. In particular, instances of constitutional change wherein popular involvement was central have attracted significant attention. Examples include the attempts at electoral reform in British Columbia, The Netherlands, and Ontario, followed by more sweeping reform sought in Iceland and Ireland. In all these cases, creative avenues were explored whereby constitutional change would occur via a participatory, partially citizen-led process that would also revitalize politics.

The little legal scholarship which has thus far looked at these developments has provided an insufficiently analytical account of such novel approaches to constitution-making. This paper seeks to put forth precisely such an analysis. It builds on descriptive work on constitutional conventions, focusing on the cases of Iceland and Ireland. The paper aims to evaluate whether the novelty in means also translates into novelty at a more substantive level, namely, in the quality of the process of constitution-making and legitimacy of the end product. The paper proposes standards of direct democratic engagements which adequately fit these new developments and identifies lessons for participatory constitution-making processes in the digital twenty-first century.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Edinburgh, School of Law, Working Papers
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2014

Publication series

NameEdinburgh Law School Working Papers


  • constitutional conventions
  • constitution-making
  • participatory democracy
  • crowdsourcing
  • Iceland
  • Ireland


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