Mérieau, Eugénie

Dr. Eugénie Mérieau joined the Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Comparative Constitutionalism at the University of Göttingen in 2017.

Eugénie Mérieau studied Law, Political Science, and Oriental Languages and Civilizations at the Universities of Sorbonne, Sciences Po, and the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris. In 2017, she completed her PhD on "Thai Constitutionalism and Legal Transplants: a study of Kingship". From 2014 to 2017, she held research and teaching positions at Sciences Po in Paris and Thammasat University in Bangkok and was twice a visitor at the Centre for Asian Legal Studies, National University of Singapore. She has lived for eight years in Asia where she held several positions including researcher for the King Prajadhipok's Institute under the Thai Parliament and consultant for the Asia-Pacific Office of the International Commission of Jurists.  

Eugénie Mérieau's research interests focus on Law and the State, Constitutional transplants and Authoritarian constitutionalism, especially in the Asian context.

Summary of Project:

Dual states and Constitutionalism: Theory from Southeast Asia

The objective of this research project is to develop new insights about the politics of the rule of law based on experiences of constitutionalization in Southeast Asia. Prominent scholars of law have highlighted the dualistic character of the state, contrasting the “normative” (rule of law) state with a “prerogative” (arbitrary) state (Fraenkel 1942), and the legal system that operates in “normal” circumstances versus the legal system that operates in times of “emergency” (Ferejohn and Pasquino 2004). In a similar vein, this research project will theorize the existence of a “deep constitution” embedded in the “visible” constitutional framework that regulates a “deep state” that is in permanent coexistence and competition with the “regular” state.

In order to do this, it will use an in-depth case study of Thailand, currently the only full fledged military dictatorship in the world, as its point of departure. The judicial and military dismissals of almost all elected leaders throughout Thailand’s political history has sparked debate about the existence of a “deep state” opposed to the rise of electoral politics, autonomous from the elected government, and endowed with veto powers over it. In contrast with conventional understandings of the deep state as a shadowy network of security agencies and their operatives, this project approaches the deep state as one that is grounded in law. In the Thai case, the deep state arguably developed out of provisions for martial law that were enacted in 1914, and which have subsequently been built into the modern constitutional order. In order to extend the research beyond Thailand, this project will analyze the emergency or “raison d’état” provisions found in other constitutional systems in Southeast Asia. The analytical implications of the project is that rather than focusing on whether states are liberal or non-liberal, democratic or authoritarian, this approach places states on a continuum, based on the potentialities offered by the emergency provisions found in different constitutional orders.

(Photo: AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

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