Populists challenge liberal constitutionalism on democratic grounds, by invoking popular sovereignty and claiming to put the ordinary citizen in the centre of the political system, while reducing the powers of the ‘enemies of the people’.
In this policy brief, sociologist and expert on populism Professor Paul Blokker argues that such populists actually increase this lack of democratic legitimacy.
He asks: Why have populists found it so easy to radically change constitutional institutions and norms, and what can we do about it?
The policy brief presents a new sociology of constitutions that shows how liberal constitutionalism is too distant from society and hence lacks sufficient societal embeddedness, a fatal weakness that is expertly exploited by populist leaders.
The way to combat this, therefore, is by societal mobilization and civil society action, including programmes to:
- enhance civic engagement and civic education;
- overcome political and social problems such as corruption, inequality, and exclusion of minorities; and
- promote constitutional resistance, by mobilized citizens, but also by the political opposition, distinctive state institutions, and judicial institutions and actors.
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.
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 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.
There is a general trend among recent populist movements to implement measures that interfere with the independence and proper functioning of the judiciary. These movements seek to frame the courts in opposition to the popular will, yet the truth is more complicated than the populists would have us believe.