Free to Protest: Constituent Power and Street Demonstration

Edited by: Andras Sajo

The recent history of mass protests in democracies and semi-democracies raises a number of concerns. Some of these concerns are related to the proper balance between the right to demonstrate and its impacts on third parties. When it comes to striking the proper balance, one cannot avoid the specific problems associated with crowd phenomena. Recent demonstrations concerning election results or regime legitimacy in a growing number of post-communist regimes raise a fundamental practical question: are mass demonstrations a (the) genuine expression of popular will? Are spontaneous forms of mass discontent genuinely supreme and legitimate expressions of popular sovereignty? What is the place of the expression of popular discontent in constitutional (indirect) democracy? A key question is whether the freedom of assembly should be placed into a different normative context, perceiving it not as an individual right of expression of ideas but as a collective right to directly shape politics. Free to Protest addresses the issue of public demonstrations, looking at the experiences of established democracies - EU Member States and the U.S. - and countries in transition. The approach of the book is to cover the problem not as a strictly legal one, but to combine the constitutional and human rights aspects with the historical, political, and philosophical dimensions.


274 pages

Publication Date: 1/16/2009
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9789077596647

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