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Fellows 2017


International Institute for the Sociology of Law

Bucerius Pre-Doctoral Grant

Try again. Fail again. Fail better: Liberal Democracy and its Sustainability Paradox


This study focuses on a “sustainability paradox” of liberal democracy. It questions whether liberal democracy’s emphasis on self-preservation has adverse effects on its sustainability. Highlighted are two converging liberal democratic developments: the emergence of a “vertical” democratic layout and the institutionalization of mechanisms that stabilize and preserve this liberal democratic template. By means of a comparative analysis, six consolidative features of liberal democracies are examined, as well as three socio-political implications — (i) political impotence, (ii) a decline of civic militancy and (iii) the disruption of a constitutional-democratic culture. Attention is given to the emergence of the “judicialization of politics” and the decline of democratic legitimacy. Suggested is that if liberal democracy’s self-preserving framework erodes the system from within, it creates the mechanisms that ensure its collapse.

Ursus Eijkelenberg is a pre-doctoral researcher who holds an M.A. in the Sociology of Law (International Institute for the Sociology of Law, magna cum laude), an LL.M in Administrative and Constitutional Law (University of Amsterdam) and an LL.B in Law (Maastricht University). His research is based on an eclectic approach that provides a comprehensive view on constitutional, legal and democratic developments.

2018 (forthcoming): Ursus Eijkelenberg, On Political Impotence: How democracies become militant, and its demos becomes impotent.
2017: Ursus Eijkelenberg, Be careful what you wish for – A Short comment on “Mandatory Voting as a Tool to Combat the New Populism”, Int’l. Const. L. Blog, May 19, 2017.

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