Farewell to the European Constitutional Tradition

On 1 July 2020, with Russia’s coronavirus cases passing 650,000 and following an elaborate spectacle of public affirmation, the Russian electorate eventually confirmed the constitutional amendments. First proposed by Russian president Vladimir Putin in January, the 2020 Russian Constitutional Amendments were initially planned to enter into force only three months later upon approval in an ‘all-Russian vote’ scheduled for 22 April 2020 but had to be postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus. Although many of these amendments have to be considered mainly symbolic, they constitute the most fundamental changes of Russia’s Constitution in its 26-year history.

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Personal instead of Institutional Power

The gist of the constitutional reform suggestions in Russia is to cement the power of Vladimir Putin once he leaves the office, and to make this in a safe, controlled environment. The latter aim cannot be achieved within the boundaries established by the Constitution. Thus, the constitutional requirements are thrown into the litter bin of necessity. However, circumventing formal procedures still calls for a sort of justification. That is why the proposed plan relies on substitutes that would mask its deficiencies.

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Once Again, a Laboratory for What Is to Come

The 1980 Constitution of Chile contained different “locks” that have entrenched some of the core social, political, legal and economic arrangements inherited from the dictatorship. While some parts of the original constitution (those most obviously connected to the authoritarian regime) have been changed in the years following its enactment, almost all the “locks” remain in place. The issue with the legitimacy of the Chilean constitution is twofold: its legitimacy is questionable both in terms of its pedigree and in terms of its capacity to keep open the space for political action.

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Is This President Erdogan’s Last Term in Office? A Note on Constitutional Interpretive Possibilities

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected as president in 2014. In 2018, he was elected to the same position for a second term. The Turkish Constitution, aside from one exceptional case, is clear in its command that no-one may serve as president for more than two terms. Is this, then, President Erdogan’s last term in office? The short answer is maybe.

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On the Brink of Joining Poland and Hungary: The Night of Surprises in the Slovak Parliament

The relatively short political history of the Slovak parliament has already witnessed several dramatic sessions. The latest drama unfolded during the night of 23 October in a parliamentary session to discuss and vote on an amendment of the Constitution and a new Act on the Constitutional Court that could have put Slovakia on a direct path to follow Hungary and Poland. The night turned out to be full of surprises.

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Fidesz and Faith: Ethno-Nationalism in Hungary

“The protection of Hungary’s self-identity and its Christian culture is the duty of all state organizations” says one of the new provisions that were adopted on 20 June to change the country’s Fundamental Law of 2011. Besides its potential to limit fundamental rights, what are the possible consequences of this constitutional change, in legal, cultural and political terms?

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The Catalunya Conundrum, Part 2: A Full-Blown Constitutional Crisis for Spain

In Part 1, we have explained the rigidity of the constitutional doctrine of our Constitutional Court on the matter of regional independence movements. There are some evident conclusions that swiftly appear – most of all that the only legal  way for a hypothetical majority of Catalan citizens to express their wish to secede or at least to consult with the population on the issue, would presuppose a constitutional reform. This is a tremendously complicated matter in itself, though.

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Fighting Judicial Corruption with Constitutional Measures: the Albanian Case

No state can thrive with corrupt political and legal elites. But if lawmakers and judges are corrupt themselves, fighting corruption with legal means is all but impossible. As a step towards membership in the European Union, Albania has embedded a comprehensive reform of its anti-corruption law directly into its constitution.

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Maßnahmen gegen den Terror: Frankreich nach den Anschlägen in Paris

Anfang letzter Woche hat der französische Präsident François Hollande vor dem versammelten Parlament seine Antwort auf die Anschläge in Paris formuliert. Einerseits soll der verhängte Ausnahmezustand um drei Monate verlängert und maßgeblich verschärft werden. Das Parlament hat ein entsprechendes Gesetz bereits angenommen. Andererseits beabsichtigt Hollande die Verfassung zu ändern, um einer „neuen Art von Krieg“ gerecht werden zu können. Ziel sei es, ein „régime civil d’état de crise“ zu schaffen, welches die nationale Sicherheit garantieren könne, ohne darüber hinaus die libertés publiques unnötig einschränken zu müssen. Was hat Frankreich genau vor, und was steht verfassungsrechtlich auf dem Spiel?

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“The key to the solution lies in Spain, not in Catalonia”

Why did the territorial conflict between separatist Catalonia and the Spanish central government escalate so badly? What is at stake in a country historically ridden by civil war and separatist terrorism? What needs to be done to resolve the conflict, and by whom? In an interview with Verfassungsblog, Benito Aláez Corral, constitutional law professor from Oviedo, explains how the Spanish constitution needs to be amended to satisfy the demand for national self-determination in Catalonia and maintain the constitutional integrity of Spain.

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