In this policy brief, constitutional law and human rights expert Gábor Tóth examines the changing face of authoritarianism, warning that this could become known as the century of authoritarianism as a result of the institutional erosion of democracies around the world.
The author argues that modern populist leaders have increasingly sought to impose authoritarian rule under the façade of constitutionalism, legitimizing themselves through popular elections and referenda. Yet these seemingly democratic constitutional norms are merely protective camouflage, designed to create systematic advantages for the incumbents.
Toth examines the typical tactics of the modern authoritarian leader, including:
- fierce control of elections;
- harsh constraints imposed on rival political parties and civil society;
- the erosion of institutional checks and balances within the legislature and judiciary;
- curtailing civil liberties and freedom of the press;
- and introducing arbitrary emergency measures by invoking threats posed by financial crisis or terrorism.
In a wide-ranging indictment of regimes across five continents including the cases of Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and Poland, Toth shows that, when a populist leader gains concentrated power, referendums and reshaped constitutions are increasingly being manipulated to present a façade of democracy that cloaks purely authoritarian aspirations.
The policy brief concludes with the prospects for the culture of constitutional democracy currently in peril, which, it is argued, depend not only on institutional checks and balances but also on the dynamic of a strong civil society to recognize the authoritarian’s new clothes and resist these efforts to invoke the will of the people, only in order to oppress them.
In this policy brief, Dr Bill Kissane of LSE examines the Turkish referendum on the most ambitious changes to the Turkish constitution yet seen, which was called in the aftermath of the failed military coup of 2016.
If passed, the referendum will allow President Erdoğan to dissolve the parliament and to declare a state of emergency.
This brief focuses on the legal aspect of gender in Bangladesh, examining specifically Muslim women and the impact that the shifting emphasis of secularism and Islam in the country’s Constitution may have had in terms of their status in family laws.
In this policy brief, Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser takes a comparative approach to challenge the conventional wisdom that populism, by virtue of its ambivalent relationship with constitutionalism, represents a threat to democracy.
This paper analyses the different senses in which the legislature’s relationship to the constitution can be understood. While broader recognition of the role that legislatures can play in relation to constitutions is valuable, there are other matters of concern relating to the realities of legislatures, in relation to representation, accountability, and deliberation, which merit greater consideration in constitutional literature.