Authoritarian Constitutionalism
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Authoritarian Constitutionalism

Comparative Analysis and Critique

Edited by Helena Alviar García and Günter Frankenberg

The contributions to this book analyse and submit to critique authoritarian constitutionalism as an important phenomenon in its own right, not merely as a deviant of liberal constitutionalism. Accordingly, the fourteen studies cover a variety of authoritarian regimes from Hungary to Apartheid South Africa, from China to Venezuela; from Syria to Argentina, and discuss the renaissance of authoritarian agendas and movements, such as populism, Trumpism, nationalism and xenophobia. From different theoretical perspectives the authors elucidate how authoritarian power is constituted, exercised and transferred in the different configurations of popular participation, economic imperatives, and imaginary community.
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Chapter 7: Authoritarianism and the narrative power of constitutionalism in Venezuela

Jorge González-Jácome


The chapter explores authoritarian constitutionalism through its iconography. Considering a popular picture of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the chapter reveals how images can build a narrative to justify the necessary authority to enact a new constitution. Instead of focusing on the typical institutional problems of constitutional analyses –separation of powers and fundamental rights – the piece underscores that constitutions are important as they tell stories about the past and knit expectations about the future of a political community. The narrative power of constitutions might be grasped if we pay attention to the iconography that accompanies their enactment and their use. In the Venezuelan case, narratives of exclusion and the reconstruction of authority in 1999 were important for triggering constitutional reform, and they were made possible through the deployment of ordinary tools of modern law such as the invention of traditions, mythology and taboos.

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