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 14: Authoritarian liberalism as authoritarian constitutionalism

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.

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