Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bicameralism under Pressure: Constitutional Reform of National Legislatures

Conference Announcement: May 2nd and 3rd, 2016 (Rome, Italy)

 

The Center for Parliamentary Studies, LUISS Guido Carli University of Rome in cooperation with The University of Milan, Department of National and Supranational Public Law; The International Society of Public Law (ICON-S); and The Younger Comparativists Committee (YCC), American Society of Comparative Law

Subject-Matter of Symposium

We can trace the institutional evolution of bicameralism from ancient Greece and Rome, to Medieval Europe and the emergence of the House of Lords in fourteenth century, in the intellectual debates triggered by the French Revolution and the design of the United States Constitution, to the reflections in Alexis de Tocqueville’s Souvenirs, through the present day. Bicameralism is today a  common feature of constitutional democracy. At its best, bicameralism diversifies democratic representation, strengthens representative government, promotes legislative deliberation, and reinforces the separation of powers. Yet bicameralism has often failed either to fulfil its intended purposes or to keep pace with the evolution of constitutional democracy. Many constitutional states, for instance Canada, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom, have sought to revise their bicameral arrangements only to confront significant legal or political barriers to change. Only relatively few reforms have succeeded. This Symposium will inquire why. Drawing from country-specific and cross-national experiences with bicameralism, scholars in this Symposium will bring to bear comparative, doctrinal, historical, legal and theoretical perspectives to the study of constitutional reform of national legislatures.

This Symposium will devote one session to constitutional reform in Italy. Bicameralism in Italy has been a matter of controversy since the drafting of the Constitution in 1946-47. Both chambers in Italy are co-equal in the most important ways: they are directly elected, they exercise the same legislative powers, and they possess the same confidence relationship with the executive branch. Yet bicameralism in Italy has been the object of several failed reform efforts both to overcome the challenges of perfect bicameralism and its degeneration, as well as to guarantee a representation of local and regional authorities as the country moves toward greater regionalization. Italy is currently undertaking a major constitutional reform to its bicameral arrangements.

These and other developments raise important questions for constitutionalism. How should a legislature be structured, and what values—democracy, representation, efficiency, deliberation— should its design prioritize? Does bicameralism still fit the times in light of the globalization and Europeanisation of public policies, the increasing dominance of judicial and executive actors, mounting calls for greater devolution of legislative powers to subnational levels of government and the multiplication of levels of government? When and under what conditions is a bicameral arrangement to be preferred over a unicameral one? How can second chambers best perform their functions.

These questions, in particular with respect to Canada in comparative perspective, were the focus of the master’s dissertation written by Gabriella Angiulli, a dear friend and colleague to whom this Symposium is dedicated. Gabriella Angiulli passed away in March 2013. She was a doctoral student at the University of Siena and a Teaching Assistant at LUISS Guido Carli University, where she earned her master’s degree cum laude in Comparative Public Law in 2008 under the supervision of Prof. Carmela Decaro. The first conference held in her memory in 2014 explored “The preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union by Constitutional Courts.” This second scholarly program will foster academic debate and collaboration on another important line of inquiry in contemporary constitutional law—on questions that formed the subject of Gabriella Angiulli’s research when she was embarking on her promising academic career.

Structure of Symposium

The first day of the conference, Monday May 2, 2016, will be held entirely in English and will feature three panels each with two presenters. The second day of the conference, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, will be held in partly in English and Italian. There will be one roundtable in Italian focused on the constitutional reform of bicameralism in Italy, and two panels in English each with two presenters.

The Symposium will feature a keynote presentation by Professor John Uhr (Australian National University), one of the leading scholars in the study and design of bicameral legislatures.

Possible Subjects for Paper Proposals

The Convenors invite submissions from scholars in comparative public law at all levels, from doctoral candidates to senior professors. Submissions may address one or more of the following subjects from national, comparative, or European perspectives:

1. Constitutional history of bicameralism

2. Bicameralism in historical perspective

3. Bicameralism in constitution-making

4. Overcoming challenges and stalemate in bicameral and unicameral systems

5. Bicameralism in federal systems and in federalizing processes

6. Bicameralism, ICT revolution and open government

7. Bicameralism, representative democracy and minorities

8. Bicameralism and electoral systems

9. Bicameralism, the separation of powers and forms of governments

10. Bicameralism and lawmaking

11. Bicameralism and parliamentary oversight

12. Bicameralism in the framework of the European Union: intra- and inter-State dynamics

To Submit an Abstract

Interested scholars are invited to submit a CV and an abstract no longer than 500 words by

November 30, 2015 to

bicameralegislatures@gmail.com. Applicants will be notified by December 30, 2015. Full drafts of papers will be due by email to bicameralegislatures@gmail.com no later than April 1, 2016. Papers should be no longer than 10,000 words (footnotes included).

Papers presented at the conference will be published subject to successful blind peer-review. The remaining papers may be considered for publication in the LUISS School of Government Working Paper Series:

http://sog.luiss.it/it/ricerca/working-papers.

There is no cost to participate in the conference. The Convenors will provide meals and accommodations (for up to two nights) to presenters. Presenters are responsible for their own travel and incidental expenses.

For additional information, please contact Cristina Fasone at cfasone@luiss.it.

 

 

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