Pouvoir Constituant and Pouvoir Irritant in the Postnational Order

800px-Le_Serment_du_Jeu_de_paumeConstituent power is a key concept of the modern constitutional tradition, yet it encounters serious difficulties when transposed into today’s globalized world. Its radical promise sits uneasily with a social and political context that seems out of reach and impossible to ‘constitute’. Yet the idea of constituent power continues to animate people in their efforts to reclaim agency and self-government in a landscape shaped largely by others. This paper traces key challenges to the continuing force of constituent power, both in the domestic and the global contexts, and it offers an account in which constituent power in the postnational order survives only in part, as a mere irritant of existing institutional structures. This reduced role points to the limitations of a ‘global constitutionalism’ which is typically confined to providing liberal checks while marginalizing strong aspirations of self-government. Download paper.

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