POSTS BY Paul Blokker

Populist Constitutionalism

Populist engagement with constitution-making and constitutional reform forms a distinctive, and in significant ways worrying, tendency. Populism is explicitly present in the constitutional politics of the East-Central European countries of Hungary and Poland (but not reducible to East-Central Europe), and is causing important tensions in the European Union, which proclaims to be grounded in the […]

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“Vote Yes for a Safe Italy” or “Vote No to Defend the Constitution”: Italian Constitutional Politics between Majoritarianism and Civil Resistance

In the run-up to the constitutional referendum in October, the Italian government meets considerable resistance towards its plans for a comprehensive reform of the Constitution of 1948. Both Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Constitutional Reform Minister Maria Elena Boschi regularly sustain that in case of a ‘No’ vote, chaos will rule. Public debate seems trapped in a Manichean game between yes-proponents that accuse the opposition of conservatism, and no-proponents that accuse the government of authoritarian leanings.

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Cultural majorities, constitutional essentials, and cosmopolitan citizenship

Liav Orgad’s idea of a two-stage process of the regulation of immigration and access to citizenship in The Cultural Defense of Nations appears sensible and on first sight largely agreeable. But a more careful positioning of the argument regarding democratic theory and sociological understandings of nationalism brings out aspects that problematize some of its key assumptions and that reveal a risk of counter-productivity. In this, the argument might be less original than claimed and the specific version of a liberal theory of cultural defense less fit for socio-culturally complex democratic societies, in particular within the European context. I will briefly touch upon three dimensions that seem to me problematic: the notions of majority culture and cultural defense; the notion of constitutional identity as used in the book; and the problem of constitutional populism.

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Systemic infringement action: an effective solution or rather part of the problem?

Kim Lane Scheppele suggests a comprehensive, holistic approach to deal with prominent challenges to the basic principles of the European Union. I very much sympathize with this idea, but believe a purely legal approach in itself is not sufficient (and might even be counter-productive).

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