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Dr Joanna Williams & Dr Nikos Sotirakopoulos (Chair: Chloe Westley)
Rights & Democracy: Which Comes First? Liberal democracy is considered the bedrock of western civilization. It is supposed to combine the protection of individual rights with democratic rule, where the people have a collective say on how public affairs are to be organized. Democracy and liberty seem to appear as a package in historical terms…the victory of democracy brings some form of protection for individual rights and vice versa. Yet, what is the relationship or the tension between liberty and democracy? Does democracy guarantee individual rights, or is it the other way around? Is democracy an end in itself, or is it only a tool so as to avoid some of the political atrocities experienced throughout history? Should we respect referenda results such as the Brexit one, where 52% of the population can dictate a major social and political change that will influence the life of the remaining 48%? And when does majority rule, which seems to be inherent in democracy, become a threat for the rights of the individual? Nikos Sotirakopoulos is a Lecturer in sociology, York St John University, the author of The Rise of Lifestyle Activism: From NewLeft to Occupy and an Academic Advisor at the Ayn Rand Centre Joana Williams is the Head of education and culture at the Policy Exchange, the author of Women vs Feminism, and associate editor of Spiked

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