The populist transformation of constitutional law: an analysis of « illiberal democracies

A debate is opening up over the term “illiberal democracy” which appears ever more frequently both in journalistic news and in the discussions among jurists. For certain French legal scholars it constitutes an hybridisation of “democracy” and “dictatorship” that would better codified by the term “democratorship” and not “illiberal democracy.” For others, as far as Hungary and Poland are concerned, the use of term “illiberal constitutionalism” is justified. The intellectual misunderstandings and so-called misuses of these terms appear more than normal when it comes to analysing democracy. H. Kelsen had already noticed the contradiction and confusion that the term democracy provokes due to the contradiction between the symbolic and the real of democracy. The aim of this article is to identify these contradictions under the prism of H. Kelsen, F. Zakaria and more recent legal scholars in order to propose a historical mapping of illiberalism, including its political context and rhetoric.

Calling the Bluff: Why is Democratic Backsliding so Difficult to Detect, or Is It?

It seems uncontroversial to assert that there are political parties which aim to subvert the constitutional or democratic basis of a society through democratic and legal means. Underpinning much of the analysis has been the assumption that this kind of democratic backsliding is difficult to detect. This paper revisits what has come to be called the detection problem The argument is set up in three steps: The first part outlines the threat to democracy as we faced it in contemporary Europe as one where autocratic leaders undermine the democratic nature of state through largely legal means. The second part identifies the “detection problem” and distinguishes between three different objects to which it could apply to. The third part deals with a series of factors that make democratic backsliding difficult to detect before moving on to discuss how these factors might influence the institutional competence of the institutions tasked with protecting democracy.

The Current Democracy Erosion – Example: Brazil

This paper analyzes the current democratic crisis in some countries, to contextualize and understand the reasons for the rise of an authoritarian populist in Brazil.
The main characteristics of this worldwide democratic crisis are: collapse of democracy not by ruptures, but in a gradual process of “erosion” of democratic institutions; rise of right-wing, intolerant conservative governments and authoritarian populists; spread of social networking and fake news.
In this scenario, Brazil became an example of democracy erosion, with the election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, a right-wing populist with typical characteristics, such as emphasis on militarism, defense of family and religion, rejection of human rights agendas. Among the reasons for his election were the Lava-Jato Operation and its determination of Lula’s ineligibility; repeated allegations of corruption involving the Workers’ Party (PT); economic crisis in the second term of President Dilma Rouseff (PT); spread of fake news.


The paper intends to investigate the role occupied by religious authority and religious discourse in the political field. Autocracy, hence, is scrutinized as an entranceway to the matter of religion in the construction of a hegemonic rhetoric of domination. Subsequently, the theological field is studied in seek for tools to the analysis of religion as a moral platform to the edification of absolute truths, which will resonate in the exercise of political power. Therefore, the antagonism existent in the core of democracy is highlighted, leading to the construction of a criticism to modern liberalism, upheld on the reconsideration of religion on its preeminent position. The conclusion presented, therefore, aims for the overcoming of classic illuminist thinking, in favor of revaluing the role played by religious rhetoric in the public sphere and promoting an effective democratization of religion as part of the project of constitutional liberalism.