Tom Gerald Daly is an academic and consultant in the area of democracy-building, public law, and human rights.



Tom is Assistant Director of Melbourne School of Government, Associate Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law, and Co-Convenor of the Constitution Transformation Network (Melbourne Law School). As a consultant on public law, human rights, and democracy-building he has worked on EU, Council of Europe, African Union and International IDEA projects, most recently designing an African Judicial Network for the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, and managing a major €3m Council of Europe project on strengthening judicial ethics in Turkey. He has previously clerked for the Chief Justice of Ireland (6 years) and has worked at the Judicial Studies Institute and the Global Justice Academy at Edinburgh University. A qualified barrister, he holds law degrees from the University of Edinburgh, European University Institute (EUI), and Honorable Society of King's Inns. Recent publications include a monograph, The Alchemists: Questioning Our Faith in Courts as Democracy-Builders (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and a chapter on ‘Democratic Decay in 2016’ in International IDEA’s Annual Review of Constitution-Building for 2016. His current book project concerns the role of public law in countering 'democratic decay' worldwide. He has written on democratic decay as a columnist for the I-CONnect blog and tweets @DemocracyTalk.



My interest in democratic decay has been strongly influenced by my wide-ranging experience in the public sector, academia, and as a consultant. My first inklings of what is called 'democratic decay' here were during my time representing the Supreme Court of Ireland on the Venice Commission's body for constitutional courts (the Joint Council on Constitutional Justice) from 2008-2011. The system of dealing with research requests from participating courts began to hint at some potentially serious problems during this time. This worsened during my time as consultant editor of the Venice Commission's Bulletin on Constitutional Case-Law (which provides case-law summaries from 61 states) from 2011-2018.

My awareness of the issue also grew as I wrote my first book on courts as 'democracy-builders', which focused on Brazil as a central case-study from a broad comparative and global perspective  encompassing Latin America, Europe and Africa. I can now discern democratic decay as a clear thread in the book — although it was not written from this angle. Since 2015, as well as actively researching the area, my awareness of the problem has been enhanced by managing a major €3m Council of Europe project on strengthening judicial ethics in Turkey,  designing an African Judicial Network for the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, which sharpened my knowledge of the state of democratic governance across the African Union, and my work with the Constitution Transformation Network at Melbourne Law School, which has enhanced my existing knowledge of democratic governance across the Asia-Pacific region developed through working on legal and constitutional reform projects in states including Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.


current book project

I am currently writing my second book, on democratic decay from a global and legal perspective, as a Fellow at Melbourne Law School. In 2017 I spent 5 months travelling across the world gathering research, presenting papers and discussing the issue with leading scholars and policymakers, in Mexico, the UK, Denmark, Poland, the Philippines, Tanzania, Italy, Germany, and Brazil, as well as Australia. This will continue in 2018 with research visits to a variety of states including South Korea, Sri Lanka, Japan, the Netherlands, Israel and the USA.



I have designed a JD legal research course on 'Understanding Democratic Decay Worldwide' at Melbourne Law School - see the Teaching section for more details. 


reading group

I have also established, with Tarun Khaitan as co-convenor, a cross-disciplinary reading group on democratic decay at the University of Melbourne. The group had its first meeting on 21 March 2018 and generally meets on the last Thursday of each month. If you are in the Melbourne area, you can enquire about joining the reading group by e-mailing or



I began writing systematically on the subject of democratic decay as a research subject in Spring 2016. Beginning with a number of blog posts, I made it the theme of my serial column on the International Journal of Constitutional Law (ICONnect) blog for 2017, I have recently published a chapter in International IDEA's Annual Review of Constitution-Building, and have produced a range of conference papers, addressing the issue from a variety of perspectives. (Many of these are currently being re-worked as journal articles). You can find a range of research below.

new articles

International Journal of Constitutional Law (forthcoming)


International IDEA Annual Review of Constitution-Building Processes: 2016 (International IDEA, 2017)

Conference papers

I-CON Conference, 26 June 2018, Panel on 'Populist Challenges to Liberal Constitutionalism II'

International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) World Congress, 19 June 2018

Comparative Constitutional Law Round-table, Gilbert and Tobin Centre for Public Law, UNSW Law School, 7 August 2017

I-CON conference, 5-7 July 2016. Panel on ‘Courts, Constitutions & Democratic Hedging’

Law and Society Association (LSA)/RCSL 2017, Mexico City, 23 June 2017

I-CON conference, Humboldt University, Berlin, 17 June 2016

I-CONnect columns

‘Can International Organisations Help to Stem Democratic Decay?’ (14 November 2017)

‘Contemplating the Future in the Era of Democratic Decay’ (15 September 2017)

‘When is a Limp More than a Limp? Diagnosing Democratic Decay’ (12 July 2017)

‘Democratic Decay in ‘Keystone’ Democracies: The Real Threat to Global Constitutionalism?’ (15 May 2017)

‘The ‘C Word: Democratic Decay and the New Frontiers of Comparative Law’ (8 March 2017)

‘Enough Complacency: Fighting Democratic Decay in 2017’ (11 January 2017)

Other Blog posts

‘Democratic Decay: The Threat with a Thousand Names’ (Democratic Audit blog, 9 March 2019)

‘Germany’s Move to Deprive Anti-Democratic Parties of State Funding: An Effective Response to the Populist Wave?’ (ConstitutionNet Voices from the Field 26 July 2017)

‘Constitutional Ignorance and Democratic Decay: Breaking the Feedback Loop’ (I-CONnect blog, 17 November 2016)

‘Time to View Democratic Decay as a Unified Research Field?’ (I-CONnect blog, 30 September 2016)

‘Attacks on Courts: Taking Wider Lessons from Recent Irish Supreme Court Revelations’ (I-CONnect blog, 9 September 2016)

‘The Democratic Recession and the ‘New’ Public Law: Toward Systematic Analysis’ (I-CONnect blog, 22 April 2016)



You can find out more, and access my research, by:



You can contact me about this Resource, or about democratic decay more generally, by e-mailing me at To collaborate on developing this Resource, see the Get Involved section.