The Mix of Latin American Populist Constitutionalism
Saffon, María Paula
González Bertomeu, Juan F.
In this article, we study Latin American populist constitutions and their uses, seeking to analytically understand whether populist constitutionalism is, indeed, a thing. We posit that Latin American populist constitutionalism is a particular form of mixed constitutionalism in three senses: first, as a specific combination of substantive traits that includes both empowering and (some) constraining devices; second, as a peculiar politics of constitutional change that incorporates popular mobilization against pre-existing institutions as a key trait; and third, as a particular practice of constitutional enforcement that involves weak and selective implementation, often through institutional capture. By considering not only the texts of constitutions but also the ways in which they are changed and implemented, we hope to complement legal perspectives of mixed constitutions with a sociopolitical analysis of practices and contexts. By capturing the distinctive contribution of Latin American populism to the discussion of mixed constitutions, we seek to challenge both legal conceptions of constitutionalism that reduce it to negative or constraining features, and political conceptions of populism that simply equate it to authoritarian rule.
Law & Ethics of Human Rights