Global Constitutionalism

Research Article

Conventions, Constituent Assemblies, and Round Tables: Models, principles and elements of democratic constitution-making


a1 New School for Social Research, 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 100033


The article presents the Round Table form, elsewhere post-sovereign multi-stage constitution making as an independent democratic type superior to the alternatives. It locates the form along with Convention and Constituent Assembly both in a comprehensive typology based on models of regime transformation, as well as historically. After making a set of normative arguments comparing the three forms, focusing on the issue legitimation, I make a case for the synthetic nature of the Round Table in relation to the two important democratic predecessors. Finally, I reluctantly admit the path-determined nature of the Round Table that strictly speaking seems relevant only 1) in the transitions from dictatorships, if 2) new forces do not have the power to accomplish revolutionary change. Nevertheless, I argue that the principles of the Round Table (inclusion, consensus, publicity, legality and veil of ignorance) are relevant to other paths, from the point of view of their legitimation. I further claim with reference to Iraq, Turkey and the European Union that elements of the Round Table can be adopted even under conditions of revolutionary change, as well as constitutional reform.


  • Round Table;
  • interim constitution;
  • Convention;
  • Constituent Assembly;
  • sovereignty


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