Constitutional Change

by John McEldowney On 23rd June 2016, the UK held a referendum on EU membership. The referendum question was “ Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? The answer surprised some, but delighted others, 51.9% wished to leave while 48.9% wished to remain.
by Thomas Fleiner On June 5, the sovereign decided on five different issues with a turnout of 46%. The sovereign had to decide on three constitutional proposals, which need an approval of the majority of the voters and of the cantons. The voters and all cantons refused all three popular initiatives with some 23% to 32% against a majority of 67.6% to 76.9%. The voters of the people’s majority decided also on too legislative referenda against the law on asylum and against the law on reproduction.
John R. Vile, (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2016, xv + 266 pp., ISBN: 978-0-8203-4900-8). This book is the culmination of more than 30 years of thinking about the unused Article V convention mechanism and related subjects. I spend the first part of the book exploring the origins of Article V processes and convention precedents in the late eighteenth and throughout the nineteenth centuries. I also examine early legal commentaries on the subject. Although I believe the weight of this evidence, including Alexander Hamilton’s comments in Federalist No. 85, suggest that such conventions can be limited, I note that this specific issue does not appear to have been as prominent in earlier legal and political discourse as it is now, and I examine recent arguments both for and against the limited convention option.
by Prof. Dr. Vladan Kutlesic, Belgrade Bussines School. Through a comparative analysis of states’ official designations and the contents of 193 current constitutions in relation to states’ markings it has been determined which characteristics and features are attributed to a state in its constitution, i.e. what modern states are like, according to what is written in their designations and provisions.
by Dr. Alkmini Fotiadou, Centre For European Constitutional Law. In recent years we are increasingly challenged to revisit the notion of emergency powers. The response to the Paris attacks is only the latest episode, while the concept of (undeclared) emergency was frequently used in the financial crisis jurisprudence. In a very interesting paper, Christian Bjørnskov (Aarhus University Denmark) and Stefan Voigt (University of Hamburg, Germany) point out that little is known about the amount of additional powers granted to governments acting under a state of emergency, the trends in the evolution of emergency provisions over time, and the factors that cause societies to adopt them in the first place.
by Bartosz Marciniak, PhD candidate at the Law Department of the European University Institute in Florence, former Visiting Doctoral Researcher at the New York University School of Law. Due to the increasing disrespect for the rule of law in Poland, I have decided to draw the attention of foreign constitutional law experts to recent events in Poland, which already have been labelled by many commentators as amounting to a ‘constitutional crisis’. Due to the language barrier and the astonishing rapidity with which the said events have occurred, much of the disturbing news has not yet reached media sources outside Poland.
by Dr. Alkmini Fotiadou, Centre For European Constitutional Law. There is an almost universal consensus that the rule of law is desirable. Given this enthusiasm, it is remarkable how little is known about the factors conducive to it. A precondition for improving our knowledge of the rule of law is the ability to measure it. In a paper recently posted on the internet, Jerg Gutmann and Stefan Voigt from the University of Hamburg, set out to do just that. Based on very extensive data from a survey carried out in 99 countries, they propose a new indicator for the rule of law.
by Jónatas E.M. Machado, Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra, Portugal. Last October 4th, Portugal had its general election. After four years of painful economic austerity, the people was called to pass judgement on the center-right coalition which ruled the country during the troubled Troika years. Surprisingly, the “Portugal Ahead” platform of Passos Coelho and Paulo Portas, the leaders of the ruling coalition parties (Social Democratic Party and the Democratic and Social Center/Popular Party), ended up winning the election, albeit with little less than 37% of the votes.
by Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou. Cross-post from Constitutional Change through Euro Crisis Law, EUI Law Department, http://eurocrisislaw.eui.eu/news/the-greek-referendum-unconstitutional-and-undemocratic-by-xenophon-contiades-and-alkmene-fotiadou/. No democratic country should have to decide on its future through an unconstitutional, undemocratic referendum. Greece did. On Sunday, Greek citizens went to the polls to answer a question characterized by oracular ambiguity. A timeline of the short pre-referendum period would begin with the announcement of the referendum on Friday June 26th, when the Greek Prime minister announced that a referendum would be held on Sunday July 6th. The vote would be on the «Reforms for the completion of the Current Program and Beyond» and on the «Preliminary Debt sustainability analysis», the then latest offer of the international lenders.

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