Coalitions are often condemned as undemocratic and unprincipled because of the compromises they involve. Politicians are accused of betraying the commitments they made during the election. Paradoxically, proponents of this view suggest that if compromises are to be made they should be pragmatic and based on policy rather than principle. Richard Bellamy disputes this thesis and defends compromise as both principled and democratic. He distinguishes a shallow compromise based on the maximal satisfaction of exogenously defined preferences from a deep compromise resulting from reasoning on principle, and argues it proves impossible to avoid the latter. Bellamy further suggests that the obligation to compromise forms part of the ethos of democracy, whereby citizens must agree despite their disagreements. While representatives will almost certainly betray their electoral mandate if obliged to make only shallow compromises, they can legitimately engage in deep compromises for their voters when they reason as they do.
Richard Bellamy (pictured left), is Professor of Political Science and Director of the European Institute at University College London. He was educated at the University of Cambridge and the European University Institute at Florence. After three years as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford he went on to lectureships at Cambridge and Edinburgh and then to Chairs at the Universities of East Anglia, Reading and Essex before joining UCL in 2005. He has held Visiting Fellowships at Nuffield College, Oxford; the EUI in Florence, The Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo and Australia National University. He was Academic Director of the European Consortium for Political Research from 2002-2006 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2002 and a member of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2008. His book "Political Constitutionalism" won the Elaine and David Spitz Prize in 2009.
Christopher Gohl (pictured right) is head of the German Free Democrat Party‘s political planning unit. Gohl is a mediator, co-founder of Procedere - Association for Procedural Practice, and a specialist on organized dialogue in politics. As senior consultant of IFOK, he coordinated the Regional Dialogue Forum Airport Frankfurt, Germany‘s largest political mediation. His recently published dissertation, Procedural Politics: The Example Of Organized Dialogue, is a contribution to an action theory of governance. Gohl will join the Global Ethic Institute in Tübingen in July 2012.