Ireland

by Fiona De Londras, Professor of Global Legal Studies, Deputy Head of Birmingham Law School The Irish Constitution can only be formally amended by referendum (Art. 46). Unlike in some jurisdictions, however, there is no formal mechanism for popular initiative: ultimately only the Oireachtas [Parliament] can propose a referendum, and the exact wording of the proposition put to the People ordinarily comes from the Attorney General. What the current developments in respect of the 8th Amendment and its potential repeal show, however, is that constitutional change in Ireland is not necessarily a technocratic, elite discourse: it can be, and in this case is being, driven by a social demand for change.
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’.
by David Gwynn Morgan For too many generations, Western (or Western-dominated) Law Schools have taught the Separation of Powers, in its classic Greek polis -originated form, not forgetting to mention Montesquieu (and be sure to get the spelling right ). The trouble with the Separation of Powers is that it originated for a form of government entirely different from the modern administrative state.

Latest Posts

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%.

Read More »

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.

Read More »