Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The seminar will provide the tools to understand and critically examine the current crisis of democracy and constitutionalism in Europe and beyond, and the resulting rise of hybrid and illiberal regimes. The seminar will thus provide a theoretical framework on the so called “illiberal democracies,” it will analyze the major characteristics and dynamics of these regimes, and it will examine the role and functions of constitutions in non-democratic countries. The seminar will also discuss whether and how constitutional democracies can be protected from antidemocratic tendencies.

Course contents

The seminar, which will take place during the second semester (March-April 2022), will cover the following topics:

1) The crisis of democracy and constitutionalism in the XXI century

2) “Illiberal democracies”: Theoretical framework

3) Populism

4) Top-down constitution-making and constitutional-reform processes

5) The concentration of powers in the hands of the executive branch

6) The attacks on the judiciary and the constitutional courts

7) Civil power v. military power / temporal power v. religious power

8) Weak protection of fundamental rights

9) Patriarchal ideology and conservative gender policies

10) Discriminations against minorities

11) Illiberal elements in consolidated democracies

12) The protection of constitutional democracies from antidemocratic tendencies

13) The state of exception

The seminar will follow the comparative methodology, and will adopt an interdisciplinary approach. It will focus on the recent constitutional developments in Central and Eastern Europe (Hungary and Poland), Russia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as North Africa and the Middle East. The seminar will also examine the main illiberal elements in consolidated democracies (especially in Europe and the United States).


The materials are available online in the platform "Virtual Learning Environment": https://virtuale.unibo.it/my/

Teaching methods

Each topic will be introduced by the teacher. Students will be encouraged to actively participate in class discussions.

It is a requirement that students attend at least 70% of class meetings.

It must be underlined that, in the light of the current COVID-19 emergency, courses taking place during the second semester will be taught in presence, with the possibility to attend classes also on-line.

Those students wishing to attend classes in presence must register through the "Presente" app (https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/online-services/online-services-for-students-1/guide-to-online-student-services/presente-1) and must hold the Covid-19 "Green Pass" (for further information see: https://www.unibo.it/en/university/covid-19-The-measures-adopted-by-the-University-of-Bologna/lessons-exams-internships).

Assessment methods

Students will have to take an oral exam on the topics discussed in the seminar.

The final grade will NOT be out of 30/30. Those students who pass the exam are considered "Idonei", whereas those students who do not pass the exam are considered "Non idonei".

In order to take the oral exam, students need to have attained at least 70% class attendance.

Teaching tools

The materials are available on the online platform "Virtual Learning Environment": https://virtuale.unibo.it/my/

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Biagi