Southeast Asia as a Laboratory for Illiberal Constitutionalism

Couverture ASE2020Eugénie MÉRIEAU

Southeast Asia has experienced three waves of constitutionalism: the independence wave following the end of World War II, the "reverse" communist and anticommunist wave during the Cold War, and the "third wave" of democratic transitions in the late 1980s. Since the mid-2000s, the third wave seems to be giving way to yet another “reverse wave”. Whereas during the first reverse wave constitutionalism declined as a source of political legitimacy, in the current reverse wave several countries have turned to rely on constitutional mechanisms and notably constitutional courts to secure their rule and contain demands for democratization. Southeast Asian innovative constitutionalism is ambivalent: it responds to demands for more human rights, including environmental rights, while protecting power-holders from political and legal challenges, sometimes leading to the demise of constitutional democracy altogether as in the case of Thailand and Cambodia.

Keywords: Southeast Asia, Illiberal Constitutionalism, Judicialization of Politics, Constitutional Consciousness, Waves of Constitutionalism