Rule by Law and the Making of Ethno-Democracies

Seminars and Colloquia

The rule of law is one of the foundational ideals of contemporary political morality and of modern liberal democracies. Its ascendancy, as a system of rules, institutions, checks and balances, was designed as a check on arbitrary, despotic rule. It symbolized, to use a Weberian term, the rationalization of the legal system, where law operated independently of the influence of power, political forces and ethics in society.

The paper accompanying this colloquium seeks to understand a mutation in the rule of law project, where an increasing gap between the rule of law and “rule by law” becomes a factor in the fashioning of modern ethno- and/or authoritarian democracies. It seeks to use India as a case study to examine the conduct of law in its various modes—constitutional, exceptional and extra-legal. As the rule of law mutates into “rule by law,” it becomes important to understand how the world’s “largest democracy” becomes smaller. India is by no means an exception. Rather, the various modes in which constitutionality and legality are used to diminish the substantive content of democracy will find resonance across nation-states.

Rajshree ChandraProfessor of Political Science at the Janki Devi Memorial College, University of Delhi, and Guest of the IWM.

Research Director of IWM’s program Eurasia in Global Dialogue  Clemena Antonova opened the colloquium.

Commentator: Dimitry Kochenov, Professor at the Department of Legal Studies at the Central European University, Vienna; Lead Researcher of the Rule of Law working group at the Central European University Democracy Institute, Budapest.


Fellows Colloquia are internal events for the IWM Visiting Fellows and Guests.