Hugo Bonin

PhD student in Political Science
Université du Québec à Montréal, Université Paris VIII

Award-winning publicationFrom Antagonist to Protagonist: ‘Democracy’ and ‘People’ in British Parliamentary Debates, 1775-1885

Published in: Digital Scholarship in the Humanities


In 19th-century Britain, democracy was not characterized by a government of the people but rather by the reign of the crowd. Indeed, the people were antagonists of democracy, not protagonists. To grasp the transition, Hugo Bonin pored over British parliamentary debates between 1775 and 1885. He demonstrates: 1) the impact of the French Revolution on democratic vocabulary; 2) the development of an explicit differentiation between the constitutional people and democratic mob between 1800 and 1870; and 3) the adoption of a democratic vocabulary by British parliamentarians starting in 1880. In doing so, he proposes a reconsideration of the ties that bind democracy and parliamentarism.