Alternatives to Liberal Constitutional Democracy

22 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2017 Last revised: 2 Feb 2018

David S. Law

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law; Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 13, 2017

Abstract

The global appeal of liberal constitutional democracy—defined as a competitive multiparty system combined with governance within constitutional limits—cannot be taken for granted due to the existence of competing forms of government that appear successful along a number of practical dimensions and consequently enjoy high levels of public acceptance. Proponents of liberal constitutional democracy must be prepared to proactively explain and defend its capacity to satisfy first-order political needs. A system of government is unlikely to command popular acceptance unless it can plausibly claim to address the problems of oppression, tribalism, and physical and economic security.

Along these dimensions, the advantages of liberal constitutional democracy over the alternatives of social democracy of the type seen in Scandinavia, and bureaucratic authoritarianism of the type seen in parts of Asia, are not self-evident. Within Asia alone, seemingly functional alternatives to liberal constitutional democracy run the gamut from illiberal nondemocracy in China, to liberal one-party rule in Japan, to illiberal constitutional democracy in Singapore, to liberal constitutional nondemocracy in Hong Kong, to hereditary monarchy in Bhutan.

Keywords: constitutional law, constitutions, constitutional democracy, liberal, liberal democracy, authoritarianism, bureaucratic authoritarianism, authoritarian constitution, Asia, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bhutan, Scandinavia, citizenship

JEL Classification: n45, p37, p17, p27

Suggested Citation

Law, David S., Alternatives to Liberal Constitutional Democracy (December 13, 2017). 77 Maryland Law Review 223 (2017); Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-10-02; University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2018/004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3087244

David S. Law (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

1 Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-266-9698 (Phone)
314-935-5356 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.davidlaw.ca

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

HOME PAGE: http://www.davidlaw.ca

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science ( email )

One Brookings Drive
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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