Authoritarian Liberalism as Authoritarian Constitutionalism

20 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018

See all articles by Michael A. Wilkinson

Michael A. Wilkinson

London School of Economics - Law School

Date Written: November 8, 2018


Authoritarian liberalism captures the combination of politically authoritarian forms of governing in defence and pursuit of economically liberal ends. It is a phenomenon often associated with periods of economic crisis, such as the recent Euro-crisis. This paper suggests, however, that authoritarian liberalism is less exceptional than normal. This is more generally missed if the constitutional focus is on the relation between democracy and political liberalism rather than between democracy and capitalism. Whilst authoritarian forms of governing are more manifest in the exceptional response to economic crisis, authoritarian liberalism characterises the deep structure of the post-war constitutional settlement in Europe. This was based on a fear of democracy and popular sovereignty, in significant part due to the threat they were perceived to pose to a liberal economic order.

Suggested Citation

Wilkinson, Michael A., Authoritarian Liberalism as Authoritarian Constitutionalism (November 8, 2018). LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 18/2018, Available at SSRN: or

Michael A. Wilkinson (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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