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Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Agenda Initiatives in Comparative Context: Enhancing Channels for Democratic Participation

12 September 2019

Time: 1:00 - 5:45pm
Venue: Room 3.1, Third Floor, Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), Queen Mary University of London, 67-69 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3JB

The logos of the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London, University of Zurich and Queen Mary University of London Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences laid out side-by-side on a white backgroundQueen Mary University of London and the University of Zurich invites you to a workshop:

Agenda Initiatives in Comparative Context: Enhancing Channels for Democratic Participation

Agenda initiatives allow citizens to use a signature gathering exercise to call for legislative action. They are a relatively little known, little studied and often misunderstood form of direct democracy (as compared to its more powerful cousin, the referendum). They have now existed for nearly a century beginning in Austria, as the brainchild of the distinguished jurist Hans Kelsen, and gradually spreading to many other European states and Latin America in particular. An agenda initiative was a last minute addition at the European Convention leading to the EU being endowed with its first instrument of direct democracy via the Lisbon Treaty. Although comparative insights from the national level agenda initiatives in Europe were considered when designing the EU’s instrument, some potential lessons were arguably not heeded, and only seven years into its operation have seen major legislative reforms to it being adopted. It may be that national level agenda initiatives will in due course have something to learn from this first transnational experiment in direct democracy.

This workshop will bring together scholars from the disciplines of law and political science to explore this question and a range of others concerning agenda initiatives. Not only will it look at questions of institutional design pertaining to agenda initiatives across a range of different constitutional systems, but also empirical practice and the actual impact (as contrasted with theoretical potential) of agenda initiatives broadly conceived as mechanisms to open up channels of democratic participation.


1.00 - Welcome and Coffee

1.10 - Opening remarks

1.15 - Situating agenda initiatives within the family of direct democratic institutions: Professor Matt Qvortrup (Coventry)

1.30 - 3.15 - Panel I: Agenda Initiatives in Europe (Chair: Professor Daniel Moeckli, Zurich)

  • Mapping the agenda initiative in Europe: Dr Fernando Mendez (Zurich)
  • Austria: Professor Klaus Poier (University of Graz).
  • Finland: Professor Maija Setälä (University of Turku)
  • Spain: Dr Orestes Suárez Antón (European Parliament)

3.15 - 3.30:  Coffee break

3.30 - 4.30 - Panel II: Agenda initiatives in Latin America (Chair: Dr Sam Halvorsen, QMUL)

  • Lessons from agenda initiatives in Latin America: Dr Orestes Suárez Antón (European Parliament)
  • Argentina: Professor Sebastián Linares Lejarraga (Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina)

4.30 - 5.30 - Panel III: The European Citizens’ Initiative (Chair: Dr EvaNanopoulos, QMUL)

  • From genesis to reform of the European Citizens’ Initiative: Dr Mario Mendez (QMUL)
  • The admissibility test and the role of the European Parliament: Dr Anastasia Karatzia (University of Essex).

5.30 - 5.45 Closing Remarks

**This workshop will be followed by a drinks reception.


For directions to the venue, please refer to the map.


For more information on this event, please email

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