Constitutions, Whether Democratic, Transitional, Or Authoritarian

1274 WordsFeb 24, 20176 Pages
Constitutions, whether democratic, transitional, or authoritarian among others, all serve a few common goals and purposes. The most recognizable purposes of a constitution typically include political and social structure in the form of judicial and legislative processes and civil rights. The goal is often to guide, give, and limit power in ways that benefit the current political elites and limit their potential rivals. Just as Galligan and Versteeg wrote in Theoretical Perspectives, “One of the primary goals of any constitution, after all, is to create, channel, and monitor power.” These pieces of the constitutional puzzle are an integral part of what makes a constitution a sort of “power map”. A constitution is in large part a country’s,…show more content…
This is the same concept in the case of “wing clipping” by elite constitution makers. Given a situation where the current powerful political party is concerned about losing power to their opposing party, the powerful political party will include a series of restraints in the constitution to prevent the other party from having excessive powers, or enough power to accomplish anything against the current status quo. It is a form of political insurance that many constitution makers, like those of Portugal in the mid-1970s, take advantage of (20, Gilligan and Versteeg). It is also important to note in the analysis of the “power map” that timing and political events play an important role in shaping the structure of a constitution. Elites losing power, as suggested by Hirschl, or major transitions that induce electoral uncertainty as suggested by Ginsburg, are often causes of constitutional change. Hirschl claims that this creates a constitution that reflects the interests of the losing elites, while just as reasonably, Ginsburg proports that the constitution will be a document of constraints caused by electoral uncertainty. In reality, a constitution is often a mixture of both interests and constraints. Sometimes these interests are entrenched into the constitutional document as values, removing them from the scope of ordinary legislature and discreetly preserving the
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