constitutional length

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 George Tsebelis & Dominic J. Nardi, Jr. When the Eurozone crisis struck Europe in 2009, it soon became apparent that Southern European countries would have to drastically restructure government spending and improve their competitiveness in order to reduce excessive levels of public debt. However, some states found themselves unable to do so, and not merely because of lack of political will. In some cases, detailed socioeconomic provisions in their constitutions limited their scope of action. For example, Greece’s 1975 Constitution prohibits the privatization of universities (art. 16(5)). In short, such constitutional provisions risk locking governments into policies that in other countries would not even be considered questions of constitutional law.

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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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