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Alexandra Cirone (Cornell University) (Webinar)

12 May 2022 @ 14:00 - 15:30


  • Past event


12 May 2022
14:00 - 15:30
Event Category:
Academic Events

“The Deliberative Constitution: Lotteries in Denmark’s 1848 Constituent Assembly”


Abstract. A constitution is the foundation of any democracy, and its wording shapes the path of democratic development. Yet how are constitutions drafted, and how does the structure of deliberation affect the final document? In the case of the 1849 June Constitution in Denmark, the draft constitution was deliberated in randomly assigned groups of legislators, to ensure equality and diversity in the debate. We exploit this natural experiment to test deliberative theories of mixed groups, in which prior research has found that bipartisan groups affect preferences and moderate polarization. We look at how the randomly assigned ideological composition of deliberative groups – measured by the number of pro-democratic Left Deputies or pro-monarchy Right deputies in a group – affects legislative behavior with respect to key constitutional amendments. Using a panel of constituent assembly members and roll call votes, we find little evidence for deliberative effects, on either voting behavior or party cohesion. Our results highlight the need to better understand promising tools of deliberative democracy, before transplanting randomization to national arenas where the stakes are high.


Co-authored with Brenda van Coppenolle