Universiteit Leiden

nl en


CPP Colloquium with Suzanne Bloks

Thursday 21 April 2022
CPP Colloquium 2021-2022
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

The Center for Political Philosophy in Leiden is pleased to announce a talk by Suzanne Bloks.

Suzanne Bloks (Hamburg)

Equal or Proportional Voting Power? A Neo-Republican Theory of Democratic Inclusion.



A core tenet of democracy is the ideal of ‘one person, one vote’.  Democracy should ensure the freedom of all members of a polity on an equal basis, and this equal freedom is assumed to translate into an equal say in decision-making. However, as Brighouse and Fleurbaey (‘Democracy and Proportionality’, JPP 2010) have pointed out, this assumption is not obvious. Rather, they formulate and defend a principle of proportionality. Such a principle demands that power in any decision-making process is attributed in proportion to the degree to which the decision applies to a person. This paper defends an alternative neo-republican interpretation of the proportionality principle.

Given two prominent interpretations of what it means for a political decision to ‘apply’ to a person, two versions of the proportionality principle can be distinguished. The first version demands power to be proportional to individual stakes, whereas the second version demands power to be proportional to the degree to which a person is subjected to political power. So far, the second version of the proportionality principle has not yet been examined, even though many democratic theorists favour subjection as the basis for attributing the right to vote. I provide such an examination and, thereby, establish that a commitment to certain interpretations of the all-subjected principle also implies proportional enfranchisement.

The proportionality principle that I defend is based on a neo-republican interpretation of subjection. Neo-republicans are committed to reducing subjection to domination, i.e., subjection to another’s capacity to arbitrary interfere with one’s choices. Neo-republicans generally agree that domination comes in degrees and that attributing a right to vote can reduce domination. However, it has not yet been recognized that only the attribution of proportional voting power can ensure that domination is reduced for all members of the polity: Proportional voting power is not only sufficient to ensure an equal degree of domination, in line with the equal freedom of all polity members, but it is also necessary to prevent domination of better represented members over others. The upshot is that the institutional realization of a democratic commitment to equal freedom allows for and requires the proportional assignment of political power.


Suzanne Bloks is a PhD candidate in the interdisciplinary DFG Graduate Program ‘Collective Decision-Making’ at Universität Hamburg. She holds Masters' degrees in Philosophy, Law, and Mathematics from Leiden University, Utrecht University, and LSE, respectively. Previously, she held positions as junior lecturer at the Institute of Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law of Utrecht University, and as research assistant in the computational social choice group at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation of the University of Amsterdam.

Suzanne Bloks aims at integrating political philosophy, EU (constitutional) law and (computational) social choice in her research. Her current project focuses on democratic inclusion, neo-republicanism, and immigration in the EU. Her publications include articles on referendums and EU constitutional law in the German Law Journal and Moral Philosophy and Politics.


About the Center for Political Philosophy (CPP) Colloquia Series


The CPP is a collaboration between the Institute for Philosophy and the Institute for Political Science at Leiden University. Attendance of the Colloquia is free and there is no need to register. See CPP for more information. For further questions please contact dr. Bruno Verbeek at b.verbeek@phil.leidenuniv.nl.


All are welcome!


This website uses cookies.  More information.