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 10: Plus ça change . . . the riddle of all Central Asian constitutions

Scott Newton


Marx posed (and solved) the riddle of all constitutions when he argued that the advent of liberal democracy revealed the ‘actual people’ as the authors of political order. The Central Asian constitutions sharpen that riddle, because in common with post-Soviet constitutional systems generally, they reveal actual elites, governing networks, as authors. Evident in their serial amendment over the past 25 years (more adjustments than reforms), the Central Asian constitutions remain the instruments, albeit complex and contingent, of those informal networks, shifting but enduring associations of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen organised on the basis of patron–client relations who divide the spoils of office and monopolise the exercise of public authority. Those same systems at the same time exhibit a distinctive mode of performance, of which plebiscitary affirmation (referenda) and outcome-orientated jurisprudence are indicative, in the context of international constitutionalist norms. Soviet in derivation, Central Asian network-cum-performative constitutionalism as a distinct species of the genus poses a radical challenge to the hegemony of liberal constitutionalism.

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