Download The Endurance of National Constitutions by Zachary Elkins PDF

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  • April 20, 2017
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By Zachary Elkins

Constitutions are meant to supply an everlasting constitution for politics. but purely part stay greater than nineteen years. Why is it that a few constitutions undergo whereas others don't? within the persistence of nationwide Constitutions, Zachary Elkins, Tom Ginsburg, and James Melton learn the motives of constitutional patience from an institutional viewpoint. Supported through an unique set of cross-national historic info, theirs is the 1st accomplished research of constitutional mortality. They exhibit that while constitutions are imperiled via social and political crises, sure features of a constitution's layout can reduce the chance of dying considerably. therefore, to the level that patience is fascinating - a query that the authors additionally topic to scrutiny - the choices of founders tackle extra significance.

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This state building function of constitutions is particularly important for young states, whose citizens have strong ethnic or communal identities that may compete with their loyalty to the state. The constitution functions not so much as a set of rules as an ongoing set of practices that define the political unit. As Hanna Pitkin (1987: 169) put it, “our constitution is less something we have than something we are. ” Conceptualizing Constitutions 39 A third and very practical function of constitutions is that they define pat­ terns of authority and set up government institutions.

On average, countries are richer, more democratic, more politically stable, and experience fewer crises, as their constitution ages. Another way to think about these effects concerns the relationship between democratic and constitutional stability. Admittedly, the relationship between regimes and constitutions is a complicated one, at least to analyze. One can ask whether constitutions that are born democratic are more likely to survive, or whether the level of democracy – or changes in such – trigger constitutional change.

Whether the ben­ efits of these institutional advances outweigh the disadvantages of constant renewal is a more complex question. Of course, these countries might just as easily have made these changes through amendment as through replacement. As we noted, Mexico, to a large extent, has incorporated broad changes to its How Long Should Constitutions Endure? 29 1917 Constitution in this way. Many constitutions, however, include extremely difficult amendment procedures that make such changes difficult, a problem whose implications for endurance we turn to in depth in Chapters 4 through 6.

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