The engagement of conservative, populist governments with constitutional reform and constitution-making is perceived as a significant threat to the rule of law and democracy within the European Union. Constitutionalists often assume a relation of mutual exclusion between populism and constitutionalism. In contrast, I argue that while populism ought to be understood as a rejection of liberal constitutionalism, it equally constitutes a competing political force regarding the definition of constitutional democracy. The article first discusses populist constitutionalism in the context of the two, main modern constitutional traditions: the modernist and the revolutionary ones. Second, I discuss the populist critique of liberal constitutionalism, with a central focus on the recent cases of right-wing populism in power in East-Central Europe. Four dimensions are prominent: (a) popular sovereignty as the key justificatory claim of populism; (b) majority rule as the main populist mode of government; (c) instrumentalism as the legal–practical approach of populists; and (d) legal resentment as the populists’ main attitude toward public law. In conclusion, I argue that while the populist critique of liberal constitutionalism provides significant insights into structural problems of liberal democracy, populist constitutionalism ultimately fails to live up to its own democratic promise.

Populism as a constitutional project

Blokker P
2019

Abstract

The engagement of conservative, populist governments with constitutional reform and constitution-making is perceived as a significant threat to the rule of law and democracy within the European Union. Constitutionalists often assume a relation of mutual exclusion between populism and constitutionalism. In contrast, I argue that while populism ought to be understood as a rejection of liberal constitutionalism, it equally constitutes a competing political force regarding the definition of constitutional democracy. The article first discusses populist constitutionalism in the context of the two, main modern constitutional traditions: the modernist and the revolutionary ones. Second, I discuss the populist critique of liberal constitutionalism, with a central focus on the recent cases of right-wing populism in power in East-Central Europe. Four dimensions are prominent: (a) popular sovereignty as the key justificatory claim of populism; (b) majority rule as the main populist mode of government; (c) instrumentalism as the legal–practical approach of populists; and (d) legal resentment as the populists’ main attitude toward public law. In conclusion, I argue that while the populist critique of liberal constitutionalism provides significant insights into structural problems of liberal democracy, populist constitutionalism ultimately fails to live up to its own democratic promise.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/670844
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