Who to trust?
Who to follow?
Who to obey?
These questions are central to our systems of government. A government cannot function if it does not have authority – but that authority is often taken for granted.
Where does authority come from? What is it based on? How is it maintained – or lost? These are the questions which the Foundations of Institutional Authority project will explore.
Our project examines a question that is fundamental to systems of constitutional government: from where do public institutions get their authority?
Constitutional law tends to assume that authority comes from the law: that people comply with an instruction because it comes from an official designated by law.
The goal of the research is to investigate this issue by talking directly to the people whose views shape institutional authority: political leaders, government officials and – most importantly – ordinary people. By asking people their views on the institutions that govern them, the project team hopes to build a better understanding of how constitutional systems actually operate.
The Foundations of Institutional Authority (FIAT) is an interdisciplinary research project based at the Centre for Constitutional Studies in the Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin and funded by a European Research Council Consolidator grant.
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 819877)
News & Events
Cracks in the Foundations?
Exploring the Tension Between Constitutional Tradition and Constitutional Culture in the UK on Referendums and Scottish Independence. By Nicky Gillibrand, Somsubhra Banerjee and Eoin Carolan In its Reference ruling on the proposed Scottish independence referendum, the Supreme Court addressed the continued uncertainty over the status and significance of referendums within the UK’s constitutional structures. The […]
Has Right-Wing Populism Reached Argentina?
By Demian Iglesias Seifert Last Sunday, August 13, Argentina held elections to determine the candidates who will run in next October’s national presidential elections. In a surprising turn of events, the far-right candidate Javier Milei, an outsider that started in politics around 2019, surged ahead in the preliminary elections, sending shockwaves through Argentina’s political landscape. Milei won […]
Swedish Exceptionalism: Pandemic Response, Public Trust, and Constitutional Design
By Orlaith Rice Sweden’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic is one that has attracted global commentary. It has been categorised as ‘the EU’s exception’, a ‘pariah state’, and been labelled ‘anti-lockdown’, ‘experimental’, ‘light-touch’, and ‘naïve’. Since Covid-19 was first declared a pandemic in March 2020, Sweden has never imposed a national lockdown, enforced general quarantine […]