Washington International Law Journal


Peter Cane


The articles in this issue, devoted to legal and constitutional issues around executive primacy and populism, were first presented at an Advanced Workshop on the Resurgence of Executive Primacy in the Age of Populism, organised by Professor Cheng-Yi Huang and held at the Institutum Jurisprudentiae of the Academica Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan on June 21 and 22, 2018. Scholarly interest in populism has grown over the past thirty years to the point where it could recently be the subject of The Oxford Handbook of Populism, published late in 2017. According to the editors of that volume, the bulk of scholarly analysis of populism since 1990 (outside the United States, at least) has been undertaken by political scientists. Some legal scholars have written about what we might call “popular constitutionalism,” which can be understood as referring to the theoretical and legal framework of liberal democracy. So far, however, public lawyers have not shown a great deal of interest in what we might call “populist constitutionalism,” which can be thought of as the theoretical and legal framework of “populism,” understood as a pathology of liberal democracy. The Taipei workshop was designed to encourage lawyers to think more carefully about legal tools, expressions, and implications of populism, if only because “the devil you know is easier to live and deal with than the devil you don’t.”

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