Seminar – Democracy beyond referenda: Four alternatives

Open group meeting of People in an office

Date: Wednesday 9 June 2021, 3 pm – 4.30 pm
Venue: Seminar Room, Koi Tū, Fisher Building, Level 7, 18 Waterloo Quadrant, Auckland


Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures invites you to a seminar with Dr Matheson Russell – Associate Professor in Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland, who specialises in social and political philosophy. He is the author of Habermas and Politics (Edinburgh UP, 2019). ​His current research focuses on reimagining and redesigning democracy so that it is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Dr Russell says there is a common perception that referenda are the most democratic way to resolve controversial issues because everyone gets an equal say. However, history suggests that referenda are not a reliable mechanism for resolving complex and contentious policy questions (witness Brexit). Referenda give us a voice, but despite what is often claimed, they do not tell us much about ‘the will of the people’.

Developing good policy requires citizens to engage in a robust process of policy development with input from the right people. It requires critical reflection and discussion among people who represent different perspectives and bring different critical capacities to the question. In this talk, Dr Russell considers four alternatives to referenda and evaluate the merits of each.

Seats are limited so we encourage you register here.

This is the first in a series of monthly seminars hosted by Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures.

Our themes