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The debates that began at St Mary's Church, Putney on 28 October 1647 pioneered the liberal, democratic settlement in England: a written constitution, universal suffrage, freedom of conscience and equality before the law. Four centuries later, the 2016 Brexit referendum raised fundamental questions concerning the constitution of the United Kingdom.
Populists challenge liberal constitutionalism by claiming to put the ordinary citizen in the centre of the political system, while reducing the powers of the ‘enemies of the people’. Sociologist Prof Paul Blokker argues that populists reduce democratic legitimacy, and asks: Why have populists found it so easy to radically change constitutional institutions and norms, and what can we do about it?
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.
American federalism is often lauded for promoting democratic participation and accountability, but this view neglects the ways in which it actually structures day-to-day political activity. Drawing on the concept of federalization of law and policy, this policy brief illustrates how lawmaking has proliferated across legal and legislative venues, particularly in the post-WWII period.