“For My Enemies, The Law”: Abusive Legalism

This paper suggests that one response to growing scrutiny of authoritarian tactics is to turn to sub-constitutional public law, or private law. By using “ordinary” law in ways that seem consistent with formal and procedural aspects of rule of law, autocrats can nonetheless frustrate the rule of law and consolidate power, while also avoiding drawing unfavourable attention to that consolidation. I refer to this phenomenon as “abusive legalism.”

This paper makes three main contributions to the scholarship on authoritarianism. First, it focuses on the use of “ordinary,” sub-constitutional law as a means of maintaining autocratic power, an area which has been under-examined in existing work. Second, it makes the case for a normative critique of such tactics based on a relatively modest conception of the rule of law, rather than from the perspective of liberal democratic norms. Third, it offers a tentative framework for categorising and understanding abusive legalist tactics.

High Courts and Autocratic Consolidation: The Venezuelan Supreme Court under Nicolás Maduro’s Rule

This article discusses the role of high courts in a consolidating autocracy. The use of high courts to entrench authoritarian rule depends on a series of non-exclusive conditions related to the court system, regime features and political context. A supportive judiciary can help the government compile information on a range of actors and provide a venue to create policy, solve internal conflicts, and punish opponents. It could also help an autocratic regime bolster its claim that it is stable, functional and with enough political clout to deliver credible commitments made with domestic and international allies. I discuss these arguments in the context of Venezuela under Maduro’s rule (2013 – Current), where the Supreme Court functions as an ‘authoritarian enclave’ – blocking opposition threats, disowning fundamental rights, supporting policy solutions, providing guidelines and key decisions for managing the opposition and repression, and enhancing regime legitimacy vis-à-vis allies.

“Systemic democratic backsliding”: reflections on recent experience in the European Union

The integration processes is dealing with many paradoxes. The topic of my presentation focus on two such paradoxes:
1. The Union has strong mechanisms to guarantee the rule of law vis-à-vis states which are applying for accession, but it loses them after accession.
2. Union law is autonomous on national and international terms – we know – but the Union does not have its own, exclusive executive organs. It must cooperate with the Member States. And Member States are both the engine and the brake of integration.

The EU has powerful weapons available to it when dealing with threats to the rule of law found in candidate countries. However, its options are not so impressive when dealing with existing Member States. This problem demonstrates the problem and paradox of “democratic backsliding” which has been noted in a number of Member The situation in Poland is the most multifaceted example and it has enormous potential for “systemic democratic backsliding”.

The Analysis on the Innate Popular Tendency of Democracy

Populism is a buzzword in recent western politics, throughout history, populism has exerted many influences on the course of democracy, it thrived and prospered through all the endeavors at expanding the concept of citizenship. Equality and freedom are the most fundamental meanings for democracy, with the development of democracy, the expansion in the implications of freedom and equality manifests a subtle and delicate correlation with populism. This article mainly using US as an example. US was founded on core values like freedom and equality, whereas recent years have seen a stronger presence of populism, crisis of divergence and divide is looming in politics and society. This article is written against the backdrop of USA and analyze the conventions, reforms and challenges standing in the course of American democratic history, and then provide a new perspective of analyzing populism through the lens of democratic institutions or the features of democratic society per se.