Inclusive Constitution-Making and Religious Rights: Lessons from the Icelandic Experiment

Associate Professor Hélène Landemore

Seminar Details:

Monday 5 December 2016


Level 9, Room 920

Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton

Associate Professor Hélène Landemore, Department of Political Science, Yale University


The 2010-2013 Icelandic constitutional process offers a unique opportunity to test the predictions of epistemic deliberative democrats as well as some constitutional scholars that more inclusive processes lead to better outcomes. After briefly retracing the religious history of Iceland and the steps of the recent constitutional process, the paper thus compares three constitutional proposals drafted at about the same time to replace the 1944 Icelandic constitution. Two of these drafts were written by 7 government experts; the third one was written by a group of 25 lay-citizens, who further crowdsourced their successive drafts to the larger public. The paper suggests that on the question of religious rights the crowdsourced constitutional proposal indeed led to a marginally “better” (smarter and more liberal) constitutional document.


Hélène Landemore is Associate Professor of Political Science. Her current research interests include democratic theory, theories of justice, the philosophy of social sciences (particularly economics), constitutional processes and theories, and workplace democracy.

She is the author of Hume. Probabilité et choix raisonnable (Paris: PUF, 2004), and Democratic Reason: Politics, Collective Intelligence, and the Rule of the Many (Princeton University Press, 2013). She is also co-editor with Jon Elster of Collective Wisdom: Principles and Mechanisms (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Her articles have been published in, among others, Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Theory, Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, and Political Psychology.

She is currently at work on a new book, tentatively entitled After Representation: Rethinking Democracy for the 21st Century, which lays out the principles of post-representative (or “open”) democracy.