by David Gwynn Morgan.
At first sight, who could possibly be against a referendum of all the citizens, as a means of taking the major decisions affecting the polity. A sort of precursor of this institution comes trailing clouds of glory from the Golden Age of Athenian Democracy, when all 100,000 of, at any rate, the free males assembled in the stadium to debate and vote on major collective decisions affecting the polis. And at the present day, the notion of the referendum chimes well with such notions as: citizen participation in government, ‘civil society’, distrust of ‘professional politicians’.
A summary by Dr.Maria Pichou, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Luxembourg.
How can the general public participate in constitution-making and constitution-amending procedures? Are popular initiatives in constitutional change more desirable or feasible in European countries today? The recent Roundtable ‘Constitutional Change and People’, organised by the University of Luxembourg and the International Association of Constitutional Law (Constitution-Making and Constitutional Change Research Group) on December 12th 2014, dealt with these issues.
by Dr.iur. Jānis Pleps, Docent at the University of Latvia.
The practice of the Constitutional Court of Latvia and the verities of the theory of constitutional law clearly mark the most essential fundamental values of the statehood of Latvia. The Court acknowledged that ‘the State of Latvia is based on the core values that among other include the fundamental human rights and personal freedoms, democracy, sovereignty of state and people, division of authority and rule of law. The state is obliged to guarantee these values, and they cannot be infringed by the statutory amendments to the Constitution.’ (Case no. 2008-35-01)
by Thomas Fleiner
On November 30, the Swiss voters and the cantons had to decide on three popular initiatives. They rejected all three initiatives with 60 to 78% of voters. The participation of voters was 48%. Sixty percent of the voters and almost all cantons rejected the popular initiative for economic justice for taxpayers. The initiative proposed a new article in the constitution, which required that all people living in Switzerland have to pay taxes according to their economic performance.
by Brian Ray, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Cross-post from I•CONnect blog (http://www.iconnectblog.com/2014/11/brian-ray-review-icon-debate-socio-economic-rights/).
The recent exchange between Professor David Bilchitz and Professors Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou in ICON’s pages over how courts should enforce social rights during times of economic crisis illustrates the decisive—and refreshing—shift away from the justiciability questions that long have dominated the comparative constitutional law discussion.
by Giammaria Milani, PhD Candidate, University of Siena.
The constitutional revision bill approved by the Italian Senate on August 8, 2014 deals with an issue that has resurfaced cyclically in the Italian political debate: the revision of Part II of the Italian Constitution, dedicated to the form of government and the relationship between the State and the Regions.
At least since the early 1980s, several attempts have been made to amend the Constitution, but only once (2001) these have been successful, providing for an extensive revision of the State-Regions relationship.
by Yaniv Roznai.
Many constitutions, old and modern, include various substantive limitations on the ability to amend the constitution. According to these limitations certain principles, institutions or rules are ‘unamendable’. In other words, their amendment would be prohibited. Most of the world’s unamendable provisions are non-self-entrenched provisions, i.e. they establish the unamendability of certain constitutional subjects but they are themselves not entrenched. Can non-self-entrenched provisions be amended? As a matter of practice, the answer is positive.
by George Tsebelis & Dominic J. Nardi, Jr.
Being part of the acceptance speech delivered by Professor George Tsembelis following the bestowal of an honorary PhD by the University of Crete the following extract draws upon his seminal “veto player” theory to address the relationship between bad constitutional design, amendment rate and poverty.
Constitutions are typically amended after extraordinary procedures. These high hurdles of approval and modification guarantee that the constitution at the moment of adoption or modification is located in the “constitutional core” of a country. The “core” of a political system is a technical term referring to the set of points that cannot be upset by some specified majoritarian procedure. So, the “constitutional core” means the document that cannot be replaced by any other under the existing requirements for constitutional revision.
by Thomas Fleiner.
On September 28, the Swiss voters and the cantons had to decide on two popular initiatives. They rejected both. The first popular initiative proposed a new constitutional provision, which set up a single, public and unitary health insurance with administrative decentralization. The proponents argued that there is no real competition among the existing different health insurances, that despotic insurance companies waste money with their income of premiums, that the explosion of raising insurance rates must be stopped.
by Michèle Finck
In studies of constitutional law in general and constitutional change in particular, the focus often lies on the national level. With the exception of a number of decentralized States, constitutions are national documents, sometimes even playing a unifying role in otherwise diverse countries. Constitutions being national documents, the assumption that constitutional change is a centralized process comes naturally. A number of processes that lead to constitutional change indeed occur on a national scale, such as debates in the context of a national convention or a decision of a national constitutional court.