Constitutional Self-Defense in the 21st Century

What constitutional preconditions are needed to protect liberal democracy and the rule of law? As a response to the rising threat to liberal democracy, author Anna Jonsson Cornell discusses the concept of constitutional self-defense.

In challenging times where disinformation and populism, together with the dismantling of independent judiciaries, erosion of separation of powers, and a weakened human rights protection for vulnerable groups and minorities, are on the rise, the question of whether liberal democratic rule of law states to protect themselves and their core values arises.

This policy paper addresses challenges to the liberal constitutional order with the aim to identify possible venues to secure and uphold liberal democracy and liberal constitutionalism. The focus is on measures that will strengthen the normative force of the liberal constitution. Building on the idea of militant democracy and constitutional patriotism, Anna Jonsson Cornell introduces and defines the concept of constitutional self-defense.

About the author

Anna Jonsson Cornell is Professor in Comparative Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University. She currently serves as Vice Dean of the same faculty and Secretary General of the International Association of Constitutional Law. She has recently published on constitutional responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, and she is coauthoring a book on rule of law as a political and legal concept.

About the editor

Tove Hovemyr is Domestic Policy Expert at Fores and holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Uppsala University. She has formerly been a political staff member of Sweden’s previous Minister of Integration Erik Ullenhag.

About ELF

The European Liberal Forum (ELF) is the official political foundation of the European Liberal Party, the ALDE Party. Together with 46 member organisations, we work all over Europe to bring new ideas into the political debate, to provide a platform for discussion, and to empower citizens to make their voices heard.

ELF was founded in 2007 to strengthen the liberal and democrat movement in Europe. Our work is guided by liberal ideals and a belief in the principle of freedom. We stand for a future-oriented Europe that offers opportunities for every citizen. ELF is engaged on all political levels, from the local to the European.

We bring together a diverse network of national foundations, think tanks and other experts. At the same time, we are also close to, but independent from, the ALDE Party and other Liberal actors in Europe. In this role, our forum serves as a space for an open and informed exchange of views between a wide range of different actors.

About Tankesmedjan Fores

Fores – Forum for reforms, entrepreneurship and sustainability – is the green and liberal think tank based in Sweden. With one foot in academia and the other in the public debate, Fores works every day towards solutions and policies that strengthen the liberal democracy. Through our three work groups we seek scientifically based, forward-looking policies on Growth, Security and Trust.