The constitutionalism in the populist movements

populismoThe origin of the constitutional populism can be considered that it is directly related to the bonapartism. The way that populism has been born follows the characteristics of Napoleón III, who was democratically elected, and at the power, he dissolved the National Assembly and violated the Constitution.

Common characteristics:

– The elective origin of both. The leaders are elected democratically, which gives legitimacy to the regime. Napoleón III, Hugo Chávez, or Evo Morales were elected with a wide advantage over his opponents.

– Heroic evocation of history. As it was the case in France, Napoleón III came to power evoking the heroic exploits of his uncle. Hugo Chávez reached the Presidency evoking the glory of Simón Bolivar, and Evo Morales, the one of the warrior Tupac Katari, for example.

– Vocation of rupture with the existing constitutional order. Napoleon III began a new constituent process after annulling the Constitution of 1848. The same thing happens with Hugo Chávez which he convenes a constituent Assembly for the drafting of a new Constitution. Similar event happens to Evo Morales or Rafael Correa in Ecuador.

-Accumulation of power gradually. Populist presidents will gradually go gaining more competencies that will only depend on them.

However, the constitutional reforms of populist governments have several paradoxes and contradictions. They aim to strengthen citizenship and promote democratic participation, in order to facilitate the expansion of individual and collective rights. But on the other hand there are changes seeking the centralization of power, the increase of the legislative power of the Executive, the extension in the duration of exercises of his position and the possibility of continued and unlimited re-election.

When a leader has weak limitations, the temptation by this leader to concentrate more economic and political power in the hands of the executive increases. What the leaders usually do to reach power is therefore to reverse constitutional restrictions.

Therefore, we can define the constitutional populism as a “political attitude that seeks to avail themselves of the reform of the Constitution to defend the interests and aspirations of the people and meet their immediate demands, without having a long-term goal” (Javier Rincón Salcedo) .

Source| La razón

Picture| Spanish safe democracy


Author Spotlight

Dueñas Gomez


Law and Political Science degree in San Pablo-CEU (Madrid).

Currently studying International Bussines and Law in Saxion University (The Netherlands) Read Full

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