Constitutional Change

by Abraham Barrero Ortega and Irene Sobrino Guijarro. Over the last months, within the context of a complicated political scenario due to the economic crisis and the nationalist tensions, voices insisting on the need for constitutional reform are being intensively raised in Spain. Without questioning such a need, it may nonetheless be useful to reflect on the difficulties that such an enterprise would entail at the present date- May 2014.
by Helle Krunke. When the present Danish government was appointed in the fall of 2011 it announced that it wanted to initiate a new discussion of the Constitution and form a constitutional commission. This initiative was launched in a government platform together with other aims. However, the government now has one year left in office and no constitutional debate or commission has seen the light of day yet. In 2015 Denmark celebrates the 100-anniversary of the former 1915-Constitution which is normally said to be the Constitution which turned Denmark in to a real democracy.
by Dr. Arta Vorpsi, Legal adviser at the Constitutional Court of Albania. In November this year, it will be 16 years from the entry into effect of the Albanian Constitution. Lately, since the new election in June 2013 after which a coalition of Socialist Party and Socialist Movement for Integration came into power, there is a discussion regarding the need of a deep constitutional reform in Albania. The need to revise the fundamental document of the state may only be determined by political and institutional developments that have taken place during this period. In fact, Albanian constitutionalists, political actors and analysts, as well as representatives of some independent state institutions seem to concur that the Constitution should not be subject to frequent and partial amendments.
by Thomas Fleiner On May 18 the Swiss voters and the cantons had to decide on three popular initiatives. They adopted two constitutional proposals and rejected one initiative. On the same day the voters had also to decide on the acquisition of 22 Gripen, which are new military jets that Switzerland wanted to buy from Sweden for more than three billion francs. The Swiss legislature enacted a law to provide an endowment fund. Against this legislation, some people required a referendum. In the end, the peoples decided with 53% of the voters to reject this law.
by Annemarie Stomp, Research intern with the State of Emergency Project and Prof. Dr. Andrej Zwitter, University of Groningen. Ukraine remains unstable and might be facing a civil war. On the 16th of March, based on a referendum Crimea separated itself (at least de facto) from the Ukraine and the Russian State Duma ratified an agreement that makes Crimea part of the Russian Federation. Subsequently, armed groups began seizing government buildings also in the eastern part of Ukraine. By the 16th of April, protesters controlled administrative buildings in eight cities of the Donetsk Oblast.
by John McEldowney. Introduction. The rise in popularity of the United Kingdom Independence Party(UKIP) in the UK amidst the possibility of popular support for euro-sceptic political parties raises major constitutional issues about the UK’s continued membership of the EU. A recent TV debate between the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of UKIP proved how difficult it was to present technical arguments for membership in the context of popular scepticism about the EU. Winning the argument to stay in the EU will not be easy as a promised “in/out” referendum is likely to be held if the Conservative Party win the next election. The time-table for the next general election is fixed for May 2015 but the run up to that election will set an unprecedented time for the UK. There are considerable self-imposed constraints on the UK’s approach to the EU that mark a considerable departure from the approach of previous governments.
by Zoltán Szente In the parliamentary elections of Hungary, held on 6 April, the ruling conservative coalition i.e. the alliance of Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), as in 2010, gained once again a two-thirds majority. It was the first election after the considerable and highly debated changes in constitutional and election rules. The Fidesz-KDNP won 133 of the 199 parliamentary mandates, while the left-liberal Unity Alliance acquired 38, the extreme right Jobbik 23, and the liberal green party LMP 5 seats.
by Dimitris Christopoulos, Associate Professor – Panteion University of Social & Political Science (Athens GR), Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights. The dilemma between freedom and security is regularly raised in debates among human rights defenders and activists. This perceived dilemma implies that being secure means giving up liberty: we accept surveillance – we give up our freedom – because we believe that this will protect our safety. Faced with the upcoming constitutional revision human rights defenders in Greece have to make choices which perhaps entail revisiting this dilemma.
by Thomas Fleiner In Switzerland, any constitutional amendment can only enter into force when the double majority of the voters of Switzerland and the voters of the cantons have adopted the partial or the general revision of the constitution (Article 140 of the Swiss Constitution). Most constitutional revisions are proposed to the sovereign (majority of the national voters and of the cantonal voters) by the ordinary legislature that is a parliament with a national chamber and a chamber of the cantons.

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Swiss votations on February 9, 2020

by Prof. Markus Kern / Fabian Schmid, University of Bern

On February 9, 2020, two proposals were up for decision by the Swiss electorate:
– the Popular Initiative claiming “more affordable homes” as well as
– a referendum concerning a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in criminal law
The Popular Initiative was rejected by 57.1% of the Swiss population and by all but 4½ of the cantons, whereas the amendment of criminal law was clearly accepted by a majority of 63.1% of the voters. Electoral turnout was at 41.7% resp. 40.9%.

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Illiberal constitutionalism 2 – constraints on public power

by Tímea Drinóczi, Professor, University of Pécs, Faculty of Law, Hungary

Illiberal states emerging in Europe, such as Hungary and Poland, are still constitutional democracies, which are shaped peacefully by populist politicians from a more substantial form of constitutional democracy that prioritizes (liberal) constitutional values through the use of populist style of governance, abusive constitutionalism, and autocratic legalism.[1] In our cases, the minimum requirements of a constitutional democracy, such as the rule of law, human rights, and democracy, have been defectively worded in a constitution, or poorly implemented or enforced.

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