I. What is Constitutional Theocracy?*
Over the past few decades, principles of theocratic governance have gained enormous public support across the world. The Khomeini-led revolution in Iran is perhaps the quintessential manifestation of this broad trend, but newspaper headlines report almost daily on religious fundamentalist insurgency from Iraq and Afghanistan in the Near East to Algeria and Morocco in the Maghreb and to the Philippines and Indonesia in the south-eastern tip of Asia. Religious parties have gained a tremendous popular following in polities as diverse as Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, and Malaysia. The sweeping win of the pro-Islamic AK Party in Turkey’s July 2007 general election further illustrates this trend. Hezbollah (the “party of God”) now threatens to overthrow the state’s fragile multiparty coalition in Lebanon. The struggle between the nationalist Fatah movement and the religious Hamas movement has effectively split the Palestinian people. Meanwhile, religion continues to play a key role in European politics, from the predominantly Catholic Ireland and Poland to the largely Orthodox Serbia and Ukraine. It has made a comeback in several of the predominantly Muslim post-communist countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as in Armenia (the historic center of the Armenian Apostolic Church) and in Georgia (birthplace of the Georgian Orthodox Church). Evangelical Pentecostalism has become prevalent in Latin America, while the Catholic Church remains a politically and ideologically influential force throughout large parts of the continent. A similar trend can be seen in North America, where religious fundamentalism, primarily the Christian Right, has become a significant political force.
At the same time, the world has witnessed the rapid spread of constitutionalism and judicial review. Constitutional supremacy—a concept that has long been a major pillar of the American political order—is now shared, in one form or another, by over one hundred countries and several supra-national entities across the globe. Constitutional courts in many of these countries have been responsible for translating these constitutional provisions into practical guidelines to be used in daily public life. The migration of constitutional concepts and structures has become a global phenomenon. At the uneasy intersection of these two sweeping trends—the tremendous increase of popular support for principles of theocratic governance and the global spread of constitutionalism—a new legal order has emerged: constitutional theocracy.
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