The People in Question
Citizens and Constitutions in Uncertain Times

6: The Populist Challenge to Constitutional Citizenship: The Closing of Discursive Space


This chapter explores the relationship between constitutional citizenship and the rise of populism within political discourse and political practices in many countries. Is this leading to the erosion of modern citizenship as an ideal of equality and self-rule, or can we see an effective triangulation of the tensions between the rule of law and the rule of people, which in fact contributes to the ideals and effectiveness of both citizenship and democracy? The discussion focuses on how populist politics close down the discursive space within which constitutional citizenship can function, leading to outcomes which tend to be exclusionary towards outsiders. The chapter notes that many populist politicians make extensive use of constitutional amendment processes to reinforce their sense of identity with the people.

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