Peer-reviewed articles

el-Wakil, Alice. 2023. “Voters’ Accountability in Popular Vote Processes.” Res Publica (online first): 1-19. [open access]

el-Wakil, Alice and Michael A. Strebel. 2022. “Participatory Processes and their Outcomes: Comparing Assembly and Popular Vote Decisions.” European Political Science Review 14 (3), 441-458. [open access]

⇒ More about it in blog posts (, FR and GER) and in a news article (karla, GER)

el-Wakil, Alice. 2020. “Supporting Deliberative Systems with Referendums and Initiatives.” In Journal of Deliberative Democracy 16 (2), 37–45. [open access]

el-Wakil, Alice and Spencer McKay. 2020. “Introduction to the Special Issue ‘Beyond ‘Direct Democracy’: Referendums in Democratic Systems’.” In Representation: Journal of Representative Democracy 56 (4), 435–447. [.pdf]

el-Wakil, Alice and Spencer McKay. 2020. “Disentangling Referendums and Direct Democracy: A Defence of the Systemic Approach to Popular Vote Processes.” Representation: Journal of Representative Democracy 56 (4), 449–466. [.pdf]

⇒ More about it in blog posts (, FR and GER)

Cheneval, Francis and Alice el-Wakil. 2018. “The Institutional Design of Referendums: Bottom-Up and Binding.” Swiss Political Science Review 24 (3): 294–304. [.pdf]

el-Wakil, Alice and Francis Cheneval. 2018. “Designing Popular Vote Processes to Enhance Democratic Systems.” Swiss Political Science Review 24 (3): 348–358. [.pdf]

el-Wakil, Alice. 2017. “The Deliberative Potential of Facultative Referendums: Procedure and Substance in Direct Democracy.” Democratic Theory 4 (1): 59–78. [.pdf]

Edited special issues

el-Wakil, Alice and Spencer McKay (eds.). 2020. Special issue “Beyond ‘Direct Democracy’: Referendums in Democratic Systems.” Representation: Journal of Representative Democracy 56 (4).

Cheneval, Francis and Alice el-Wakil (eds.). 2018. Debate issue “Do Referendums Enhance or Threaten Democracy? Swiss Political Science Review 24 (3): 291-358.

Book chapters

el-Wakil, Alice. 2022. “L’impact de la démocratie directe sur les élus.” In Magni-Berton, Raul and Laurence Morel (eds.), Démocraties directes. Bruxelles, Bruylant: 313–320.

el-Wakil, Alice and Spencer McKay. 2022. “La démocratie directe dans la théorie politique.” In Magni-Berton, Raul and Laurence Morel (eds.), Démocraties directes. Bruxelles, Bruylant: 65–74.

Other publications

Cheneval, Francis and Alice el-Wakil. 2018. “Introduction to the Debate: Do Referendums Enhance or Threaten Democracy?” In Swiss Political Science Review 24(3), 291–293.

el-Wakil, Alice, Rémi Baudoui and Matteo Gianni. 2016. “Etat d’exception, démocratie directe et exception démocratique : le cas Suisse.” Revue En Jeu (6): 109-120.

el-Wakil, Alice. 2014. Invisible injustice : les enjeux de la ‘belle apparence’ en théorie politique. Geneva Laboratory of Political Science: Green Lab (2).

Book reviews

el-Wakil, Alice. 2023. Review essay for a book symposium on Political Corruption: The Internal Enemy of Public Institutions, by Emanuela Ceva and Maria Paola Ferretti. The Review of Politics (online first), 1-5. [open access]

el-Wakil, Alice. 2020. Review of Centripetal Democracy: Democratic Legitimacy and Political Identity in Belgium, Switzerland, and the European Union, by Joseph Lacey. Acta Politica 55 (1): 131-133.

el-Wakil, Alice. 2016. Review of Clientelism, Social Policy and the Quality of Democracy, by D. Abente Brun and L. Diamond (eds.). Political Studies Reviews 14 (1): 63.

Outreach publications & translations

See here.


Research projects

Reconsidering “direct democracy”

Should we include popular vote processes, namely referendums and initiatives, in our democratic systems, or rather preserve conventional representative systems? Democratic theorists have widely rejected the intensifying calls for “More direct democracy!” and promoted conventional representative systems. Yet, objections to popular vote processes generally display important weaknesses: they conflate referendum and initiative processes with a model of “direct democracy,” assumed to be fundamentally opposed to that of “representative democracy”; they ignore the diversity popular vote processes’ institutional design; and they pay close to no attention to the ways in which these processes interact with other political processes and impact democratic systems at large. In this project, I uncover these problematic assumptions and propose both new answers to existing objections to them and refinments of the role and value of popular vote processes in democratic systems.

Citizens’ assemblies in Switzerland

The Swiss political system is well known for its “direct democracy” – the popular vote processes that enable citizens to vote on all constitutional amendments (mandatory referendums) and to demand popular votes on laws recently adopted by elected representatives (bottom-up referendums), but also on policy proposals drafted by groups of the civil society (popular initiatives). Oriented towards decision-making, these processes offer few options to promote inclusive and informed political discussion among citizens. The literature on democratic innovations suggests that this limitation could be overcome by instituting assemblies of randomly selected citizens – citizens’ assemblies. In this project, led by Nenad Stojanović (University of Geneva), we organize and study the first experiences of citizens’ assemblies in Switzerland.
I was
involved as a scientific collaborator in the organization of two kinds of citizens’ assemblies:

Citizens’ Initiative Reviews: see here for more information
Forum citoyen de Genève: see here for more information