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 12: States of authoritarianism in liberal democratic regimes

Norman W. Spaulding


This chapter examines the relationship between authoritarianism and liberal democratic constitutionalism from a distinctive vantage point. Even among quite sensitive treatments of ‘hybrid’ and ‘dual state’ regimes – regimes that combine authoritarianism with features of liberal democratic institutions and practices – there remains an air of surprise at their stability; repressive measures are generally described as occurring in spite of the liberal democratic institutions and practices and not because of them; and attention rests almost exclusively with the ‘sham’ appearance of liberal democratic institutions and practices in these regimes, not the appearance of authoritarianism in liberal democratic states. Authoritarianism, in short, is persistently framed in the negative space of democratic constitutionalism. Revealing as this may be of the varieties of authoritarianism, it tends to obscure the question whether authoritarianism is in important respects constitutive of democratic governance – an element of the revolutionary violence necessary to establish constitutional order and the legal and political means by which it is sustained.

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