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School of Law

'Authoritarian Constitutions' Series: Democracy, the rule of law, and the rise of populism

Date: 16 November 2021

Part of the Centre for Law, Democracy, and Society's 'Authoritarian Constitutions' Series.


Far-right-wing populism in the EU has emerged as a key concern for the Union, jeopardising core European values of democracy, the rule of law, and individual rights. From Poland’s high-profile attempts to overhaul its judiciary, to the Hungarian Fidesz’s attacks on free speech and minority rights, the populist wave threatening to sink the European project. This paper is divided in two parts. In the first part, he discussed some of the causes of the rise of populism. He suggested that shortcomings of liberal democracies, which persist in contemporary liberal democracies, have offered fertile ground for the rise of populist actors. In the second part of this paper, he explored the possibility of looking at the proposals of populist parties in Europe as an alternative means of conducting democratic politics. In doing so, he examined their claim of ‘illiberal democracy’. Although an illiberal democracy remains a conceptual possibility, the way populist parties in power around Europe behave causes serious concerns about democracy.


Dr Andreas Marcou is a Lecturer in EU Law and Theory at the School of Law of UCLan University (Cyprus). Andreas completed his PhD in Law at Queen Mary University of London in 2020. In addition, he holds an LLB from Queen Mary University and an MA in Legal and Political Theory from University College London. His research interests include republican and liberal theories, law’s authority and lawbreaking, theories of democracy and legitimacy at the national and the European level, and the duties and responsibilities of citizens within a liberal democracy. Andreas is the Editor of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Populism and a Research Fellow for the JMM ‘EU Law and Governance in Populist Times’. He is also on the editorial board of the Rule of Law Monitoring Mechanism and is also a member of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law, Alternative and Innovative Methods (ICLAIM) contributing on issues of Ethics, Democracy, and Law in society.

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