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Legitimacy Gap - Secularism, Religion, and Culture in Comparative Constitutional Law by Depaigne, Vincent (13th July 2017)

Introduction: The Secular State and Its Legitimacy

From: Legitimacy Gap: Secularism, Religion, and Culture in Comparative Constitutional Law

Vincent Depaigne

Legitimacy represents a particular problem for the secular state. It is—I suggest—linked with the role of religion and culture in the secular state, in particular in its contemporary form in Europe. The ‘secular’ is not about the separation between politics and religion but rather about the entry of religion into worldly politics. A number of thinkers (Max Weber, social contact theorists) have dealt with the nature of secular legitimacy. However, these accounts leave unanswered the question of the legitimacy of the state. It is argued here that secular legitimacy is of a procedural rather than substantive nature. Secular legitimacy misses what I call an ‘x’ factor, which can find its expression in the idea of the people or the nation. An approach through constitutional law is proposed here, based on models of constitutional legitimacy and looking at three case studies drawn from Asia and Europe.

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