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date: 24 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Many scholars hold that populism and constitutionalism cannot go together: populists, it is claimed, are against institutions in general, and against checks and balances as provided for in constitutions in particular. Instead, so the conventional wisdom goes, they assert an unrestrained popular will, or an unmediated relationship between a charismatic leader and the people. This chapter disputes this picture, building on a definition of populism whereby populists are not just anti-elitists, but also necessarily anti-pluralists, in order to argue that populists can coherently write constitutions to fix a supposed foundational popular will. In that sense, populists do not have to be uncomfortable with a usage of constitutions as a set of constraints; but they are opposed to constitutions as pluralism-enabling and pluralism-preserving devices (and, more particularly, as offering democracy-constitutive rights which could be used to change the populists’ preferred constitutional identity).

Keywords: populism, constitutionalism, pluralism, populist constitutionalism, popular constitutionalism

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