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Michael A. Wilkinson

Authoritarian liberalism captures the combination of politically authoritarian forms of governing in defence and pursuit of economically liberal ends. It is a phenomenon often associated with periods of economic crisis, such as the recent Eurocrisis. This chapter suggests, however, that authoritarian liberalism is less exceptional than it is normal. This is more generally missed if the constitutional focus is on the relation between democracy and political liberalism rather than between democracy and capitalism. While authoritarian forms of governing are more manifest in the exceptional response to economic crisis, authoritarian liberalism characterizes the deep structure of the postwar constitutional settlement in Europe. This was based on a fear of democracy and popular sovereignty, in significant part due to their perceived threat to a liberal economic order.