Constitutional Inertia and Regime Pluralism in Asia

Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? (Mark Graber, Sanford Levinson & Mark Tushnet eds., Oxford University Press, 2018)

Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-03-01

University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2018/015

20 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2018 Last revised: 18 Aug 2018

See all articles by David S. Law

David S. Law

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law; University of California, Irvine School of Law

Chien-Chih Lin

Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica; Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica

Date Written: May 18, 2018

Abstract

Many fear that constitutional democracy is under threat from democratic backlash and losing ground to illiberal constitutionalism. Discussion of this supposedly global trend, however, often takes relatively little account of East Asia, if not Asia more generally, which is deeply problematic given both the intrinsic importance and the heterogeneity of the region. This essay draws on Asian experience over the last three decades to evaluate three hypotheses that might explain the prevalence and stability of constitutional democracy: (1) the contagion hypothesis, (2) the constitutional inertia hypothesis, and (3) the regime performance hypothesis. Comparison of such jurisdictions as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Thailand is sufficient to cast doubt on (1) but suggests that (2) and (3) are both plausible. On the whole, this vast region is characterized more by regime stability than either backsliding or hegemony of any particular regime type. What the future appears to hold for Asia is more of the same—namely, regime pluralism.

Keywords: regime pluralism, constitutional inertia, contagion, regime performance, first-order needs, constitutional democracy, bureaucratic authoritarianism, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Japan

JEL Classification: P37, P48, P51

Suggested Citation

Law, David S. and Lin, Chien-Chih, Constitutional Inertia and Regime Pluralism in Asia (May 18, 2018). Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? (Mark Graber, Sanford Levinson & Mark Tushnet eds., Oxford University Press, 2018); Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-03-01; University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2018/015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3133913 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3133913

David S. Law (Contact Author)

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

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

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

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

Chien-Chih Lin

Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica ( email )

128 Academia Road, Section 2
Taipei City, 11529
Taiwan

HOME PAGE: http://www.iias.sinica.edu.tw/en/content/researcher/contents/2013110517175075138/?MSID=2016091314143

Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica ( email )

128 Academia Road, Section 2,
Taipei City, Taiwan 11529
Taiwan

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