Courses & conferences on the concept of democracy

Suggested Conference Themes:

  • What is democracy?

Curiously, this term is never defined. Elections – essential though they are – are not a sufficient criterion to be able to affirm that a country is democratic. There are other criteria that must be met, some of which, although more important, are only partially met. Political regimes in Western countries still have some way to go to earn the title of truly democratic.

  • Can the principles of marketing be applied in the political arena?

Governments rarely make the right political decisions. Constantly confronted with all the ills of society, they spend their time trying to solve problems over which they have no control, under pressure from citizens who would overcome the difficulties themselves if laws were better designed. Thanks to the tools of democratic engineering, it is easier to analyze the flaws of a political system and to identify appropriate solutions.

  • What would change if the rules of democracy were respected?

According to the economists of the School of Public Choice, winners of several Nobel prizes, public spending should not exceed 20% of the wealth produced. Some states have far exceeded double this rate because the power of coercion is left to the free appreciation of those in power. They overestimate their capacity to act, whether for electoral purposes or with good intentions. Many laws and decrees would be declared unconstitutional if the rules of the game were respected.

  • Is politics a profession?

The search for the common interest presupposes the intervention of various professionals: the theoretician, who intervenes upstream of the political scientist, jurists, experts in the fields under consideration, collaborators of elected officials as well as civil servants, without forgetting lobbyists and journalists, whose role is to inform the citizen. As the elected representative is only the latter’s representative, whose skills – knowing how to communicate and show discernment – are quite widespread, we cannot speak of a profession in this function.

Proposed course cycle

Five sessions spread over five months, sanctioned after a knowledge test by the delivery of a certificate of ambassador of democracy.

  • The fundamental principles at the heart of the republican pact

A democratic society is based on rules of the game that are natural, because they appeal to everyone’s moral sense and, not being the result of an electoral debate, they have a reality of their own. They take the form of precepts of universal scope, which make it possible to translate « human rights » into citizens’ rights. Their adoption has been facilitated since the concept of democracy was rationally defined.

  • The role of the State in a democracy

The state regulates society by law. To this end, it holds a monopoly on coercion, a necessary condition for the common interest to prevail. As long as there are just laws, there is no reason for it to assume itself the services that citizens can provide within the framework of associations free to act. It is the alternation of right-wing and left-wing majorities in Parliament that makes it possible to define in each field under consideration what falls within the private and public spheres.

  • The polycentric structure of power in a modern country

Citizens delegate their sovereignty at different levels. Local and regional problems are solved at the most relevant levels to resolve them, while ordinary laws are most often dealt with at the national level. As for higher principles of law, at a time when history is becoming globalized, they are meant to be respected at a transnational level – the European Union in the case of France.

  • The decisive role of voting methods

At each level, power is exercised under the control of citizen delegates. For it to be coherent and effective, it must be concentrated within an executive, whose head must be accountable to the majority of the votes cast, and in fact revocable. For this reason, the majority vote is consubstantial with democracy, just as the functions of head of state and head of government must be dissociated because they are of different natures, the former embodying national unity, the latter the governmental majority.

  • The components of a good constitution

The Constitution, which is in the form of a triptych, defines the rules of the political chessboard. The preamble clarifies the role of the state by setting out the principles of democracy, which establish the goals to be achieved. The organization of public authorities translates these principles into the form of institutions. Finally, organic laws define the functioning of the main institutions, such as the judiciary and the legislature. The respect of these norms is guaranteed by a supreme jurisdiction.