Juridical Coups d’etat – all over the place. Comment on “The Juridical Coup d’etat and the Problem of Authority” by Alec Stone Sweet
Title: Juridical Coups d’etat – all over the place. Comment on “The Juridical Coup d’etat and the Problem of Authority” by Alec Stone Sweet
Author: SADURSKI, Wojciech
Citation: German law journal, 2007, Vol. 8, No. 10, pp. 935-940
ISSN: 2071-8322; 2071-8322
There is a strong temptation to take the metaphor of “coup d’état” too seriously and follow it up by showing that it is not all that accurate. Normally we speak of a coup d’état, at least in a democratic setting, when there is an illegitimate capture of the existing power structures by a group that has no mandate (normally, electoral) to rule. So the coup d’état used in its proper locus, that is, in the description of the political power-capture, has both normative and descriptive content: (1) normatively, it has usually a condemnatory color; (2) descriptively, it identifies a change of the ruling group within more-or-less unchanged authority structures. None of these ingredients applies to the intriguing and thought-provoking analysis offered by Alec Stone Sweet: (1) juridical coups d’état are clearly not condemned by him: at least he tells us that his analysis is purely descriptive rather than normative; (2) juridical coups d’état result in fundamentally altered authority structures: indeed, it is, for Stone Sweet, their main definitional feature. So taken pedantically, the metaphor of coup d’état is singularly inadequate for Stone Sweet’s purposes.
Type of Access: openAccess