Call for Papers «Populism and Anti-liberalism: Practices, Challenges and Counteractions». Third Workshop of Civic Constellation III: Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Anti-Liberalism

Call for Papers: Populism and Anti-liberalism: Practices, Challenges and Counteractions. Third Workshop of Civic Constellation III: Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Anti-Liberalism. 24–25 June 2021

The third Civic Constellation III workshop will be held online.
Over the past decade the rise in constitutional democracies across the world, and significantly throughout Europe, of anti-liberal politics has changed the terms of academic and public debates on democracy and rights. In real politics, anti-liberal claims and practices are argued and enforced in the name of democracy and even of basic rights. Typically, both right-wing and left-wing populist parties that endorse the electoral-representative framework and embrace majoritarianism and democratic self-rule often display liberal values and views and mimic liberal vocabularies and argumentations, which they instrumentalize for their
ideological ends.
In fact, the relations of populism with both democracy and anti-liberalism are far from simple. Presented by influential authors as a kind of corrective to the shortcomings of democracy, in so far as it asserts the popular discontent and contests the lack of political responsiveness, populism has also been understood as a distorting variant of democracy or as an extreme form of the democratic project that, when unbridled, tends to mutate into “democrature”.
Seemingly, populism is not always a nemesis for liberalism; populisms grow, adapt and proliferate in constitutional democracies and different combinations with liberal ideology can be found in party platforms and in populisms in power and in coalition government in Europe.
Although self-invested as the true representatives of the people, they target the delegitimation and dismantling of liberal institutions (independence of judicial courts, impartiality of supervisory authorities, legitimate opposition of political parties, and critical vigilance by free press). However, the current institutional polarization and political radicalization shows huge variations in degrees across Europe.
Resulting from an alternative understanding of political action, the anti-liberal ways of doing politics are affecting seriously the performance of democratic institutions and the civic experience of individuals. So, in the midst of this illiberal zeitgeist, legitimate and efficient (legal and political, but also cultural and educational) measures are required that confront
these politics and counteract their corrosive effects on civic culture. However, what concerns us in the current political cycle is not only which strategies (whether sterilizing ones, such as militant democracy measures, or more prophylactic and disinfectant ones, such as deliberative reform of parties, culture war interventions, or civic education initiatives) may be deployed at the national level and in the European supranational space, but also that these strategies should realize a complex and demanding understanding of the democratic project and its alloy
with liberal values.

For this workshop paper proposals are welcomed that shed light on the interconnections between populism and anti-liberalism, on the normative assumptions underneath recent anti-liberal and populist implementations and backslidings, and on the types of specific and concerted, domestic and international measures to (be designed to) counter them. On the basis of these considerations, contributions are invited addressing, but not limited to, the following questions:
Are we witnessing an illiberal moment among the European countries, or even a swing from undemocratic liberalism to illiberal democracy? In what sense can populist revolt against intermediary bodies favour the revitalization of the democratic project if it promotes instead the destabilization of constitutional democracies? Do anti-liberal politics spread the constitutional erosion along with disfiguring democratic practices and corroding civic experiences? What legal and political, cultural and educational strategies to contain and restrict undemocratic and anti-liberal politics are being –or should be– deployed in Europe? How far does the subversion of the basic tenets of constitutionalism and the rule of law go in those countries that have opted for anti-liberal democracies? Is the contemporary nationalist populism (in Hungary, Poland and elsewhere) a hybrid political regime based on a permanent state of exception and in search of irreversibility? Should it be possible to curb those ruling populisms that put judicial institutions at the service of highly presidential executives and that seek to secure leverage over constitutional courts and even constitutional change through illiberal constitutionalism?

Submission details
Paper proposals should contain title, an up to 500-word abstract, and author’s contact details (name, institution, position, e-mail address and brief CV of no more than 150 words). Please submit them to:, cc’ing

Key dates
Deadline for submitting paper proposals to both convenors: Monday, 24 May 2021
Notification of acceptance / rejection: Friday, 11 June 2021
The link to the workshop and the programme will be provided afterwards.

Workshop dates: 24–25 June 2021

Javier Gil ( and Asunción Herrera (
Civil Constellation III: Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Anti-Liberalism (Spain’s Research Fund PGC2018-093573-B-I00)

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