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 11: Constitution of false prophecies: the illiberal transformation of Hungary

Maximilian Pichl


Hungary is a laboratory for authoritarians in Europe. Since the election of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party in 2010, the government has transformed the constitution and the state apparatuses in an illiberal way. The political sphere has been monopolised in the interest of the leading party and attacks against critical actors from civil society are common. The authoritarian transformation is linked to the constitution project of 2011/2012. The so-called national avowal represents an ethnic understanding of constitutionalism and offers the government a legitimizing vehicle for politics of exclusion towards constructed ‘foreigners’. The article tries to understand the constitution as a propaganda tool for the government; therefore the perspectives of critical theory are used to deconstruct the national avowal. The main reference point for the analysis is Leo Löwenthal and Norbert Guterman’s study False Prophets, in which they deal with authoritarian rhetoric.

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