Shifting constitutional imaginaries

Taken-for-granted notions of the political, regarding representative democracy, the rule of law, and constitutionalism, are being put to an existential test. The longue durée of modern democracy has arrived at a turning point. This turning point calls for a profound analysis, which is able to identify fields of tensions and important shifts in meaning. In-depth analysis ought to be based on a historical perspective grounded in the idea of social and political imaginaries. Strictly tied up with the emergence of the political imaginary of modern democracy are constitutional imaginaries, in particular a dual imaginary of order and self-government. The paper will, first, elaborate the notion of imaginaries. Second, it will explore the idea of constitutional imaginaries. Third, the paper will discuss contemporary shifts in (the hold of) political and constitutional imaginaries, engaging in particular with what could be identified as a ‘populist imaginary’ of constitutionalism.