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Identity vs. representation: what makes ‘the people’? Rethinking democratic citizenship through (and beyond) Carl Schmitt and Hans Kelsen

The concept of ‘citizenship’ has significantly evolved since the work by Thomas Marshall in 1950: the emergence of various kinds of ‘identity/difference’ politics, the transformation of political representation within our ‘glocal’ democracies and the theoretical challenges posed by the EU (especially about pivotal notions such as sovereignty, constituent power and peoplehood) questioned the traditional account of liberal democratic citizenship (sect. 0). Combining political history and theory, the present paper looks backwards to the debate between Carl Schmitt and Hans Kelsen in 1920s Weimar over the fate of parliamentary democracy to distill useful insights for rethinking citizenship via representation. Mapping their topography of democratic governments and their diverging understanding of what keeps a community of citizens together (sects. 1-2) will help developing a more sophisticated notion of ‘the people’ beyond standard dichotomies in democratic theory: namely, those of identity (Schmitt)/representation (Kelsen), constituent (Schmittian)/constituted (Kelsenian) power, substantial (Schmittian)/procedural (Kelsenian) democracy also recurring in the normative understanding of the Union (sect. 3).

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