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Between Mimetism and Parasitism: Populism in a Comparative Perspective

Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

This talk explores the relationship between constitutionalism and populism in conceptual terms. We often tend to conceive populism and constitutionalism as being antithetical but the relationship between them should not be seen in terms of mutual exclusion and perfect opposition. Indeed, it is possible to say that populism frequently relies on concepts and categories belonging to the language of constitutionalism (majority, democracy, people), trying to reshape them to offer a sort of constitutional counter-narrative. We know that populists struggle with constitutionalism understood as a set of techniques aiming at limiting (and shaping) political power but this does not exclude that populists may seek to exploit constitutions for their own purposes. As Mudde argued, populists tend to have an opportunistic approach to constitutionalism. But how do the populists—particularly the governing populists—approach the categories of constitutional law? In this talk, I shall deal with this question by relying on two concepts: mimetism and parasitism.

The lecture will be streamed live on the Institute’s Facebook page.

About the speaker:

Giuseppe Martinico is Full Professor of Comparative Public law at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa. Prior to joining the Scuola Sant'Anna, he was García Pelayo Fellow at the Centro de EstudiosPoliticos y Constitucionales (CEPC), Madrid and Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence.


Dorit Modersitzki is the coordinator of the re:constitution programme at the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien. Before joining re:constitution, Dorit worked in science management and served as International Strategy Officer at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She holds degrees in European and British Studies.


Dimitry Kochenov is lead researcher of the Rule of Law Workgroup at CEU Democracy Institute and Professor at CEU Department of Legal Studies in Vienna. His research focuses on the principles of law in the global context, with a special emphasis on the Rule of Law, citizenship, and the enforcement of EU values.