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Photo: “UN General Assembly“, by Patrick Gruban, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Szente, Zoltan. “Populism and Populist Constitutionalism.” In Populist Challenges to Constitutional Interpretation in Europe and Beyond. Creative Commons,  CC BY-NC-ND, 2021.


Populist constitutionalism is a kind of intermediate category between these two concepts and refers to the constitutional approach, aspirations, or activities of populism. The conceptualization of populism is difficult not only because it is a very abstract concept, but also because it signifies a phenomenon that does not fit, or fits only with difficulty, into other existing conceptual frameworks. Populism is not a recently discovered concept; its roots go back to the 19th century, and it was first used, perhaps, for the Populist Party in the United States and for the Narodnik movement in Russia at the end of that century. The debates on populism have also reached the constitutional discourse, recognizing that one of the distinguishing features of modern populism is its ‘constitutional project’, that is, the ambitions of populists to pursue constitutional changes to achieve their goals when they come to power.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.