Welcome to a seminar with Professor Ludvig Beckman, Stockholm University 


A central idea in democratic thinking is that public power is legitimate only when it “derives” from the people. The powers exercised by the state do not belong to the state, but to the people subject to them; peoples are the true bearers of sovereignty and “supreme authority in the state”. The political vigor of this idea is testified by contemporary state constitutions where the ideal of popular sovereignty is affirmed, either by explicit acknowledgement of this principle or by provisions to the effect that public power “derives” from the people, as in the Swedish Instrument of Government (RF 1:2).

There are two important implications of this ideal. The first is that the people (or its representatives) should be able to determine the outcomes of public policy and law. The second is that nations where there is more than a single people present, should reflect the equal status of these peoples in the constitutional structure.

The first implication points towards a tension between the ideal of rule by the people and rule of law. The validity and content of laws is not determined by the people alone but also depends on legal practices and the public officials tasked with their implementation. The question then is to what extent the democratic ideal of popular sovereignty is at all compatible with the idea of democratic government in a legal and constitutional system? To illustrate this problem, the seminar will discuss different understandings of the relationship between the people and the legal system.

The second implication is of particular relevance in Sweden to the extent that the indigenous people of the Sami is recognized as a separate people. Under what conditions are we entitled to conclude that public power in Sweden derives from the people that is consistent with the existence of the Sami as a separate people? For the purpose of illuminating this problem, the seminar discuss three existing models of organizing the constitutional relationship between the majority population and indigenous groups and offers tentative ideas about of alternative solutions.

The Migration Seminar series is hosted by The Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare (MIM) at Malmö University. More information on upcoming seminars is available here.

Gathering for the seminar is at 14:05 on the ground floor next to the Reception in Niagara.

Short bios

Ludvig Beckman's research is focused on fundamental problems in the relationship between public power and individual rights. Topics treated in his writings include the voting rights of various groups currently excluded in many countries (children, people with mental disabilities, irregular migrants, resident non-citizens and non-resident citizens); the measurement and conceptualization of democracy; the justification of human rights to democracy; the relationship between electoral turnout and political equality; conflicts between intergenerational democracy and justice; freedom of speech and self-censorship; the meaning of immigrant integration; liberalism and the idea of the ethically neutral state; national security and privacy rights; genetic testing and genetic privacy and the notion of political competence and the recruitment of Swedish ministers. Ludvig Beckman was during 2010-2015 responsible for two research projects with funding from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and the Swedish Research Council on how access to political rights is affected by globalization and recent developments in international law. Another current research interest is how the ideal of democracy is influenced by the growing threat of climate change.