Imitating Democracy

Russia is moving fast with its constitutional reform. On 10 March, the State Duma supported an amendment, which, if it enters into force, will allow Putin to participate in the presidential elections 2024. Although the amendment is constitutionally questionable – substantively as well as procedurally – Russia’s Constitutional Court is likely to give its approval.

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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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Between Constitutional Romance and Real-World Politics

The Chilean process for a new constitution is a reminder that constitutional processes are not necessarily ideal scenarios of high deliberation, but processes that can include risks, self-interested politicians, the threat of violence, and competing views that try to defeat each other. In Chile, the romantic notion of constitution-building as a sort of new beginning quickly faced the challenges of real-world politics in a situation of institutional fragility.

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A Constitution Borne Out of Actual Bullets

When Sergio Verdugo published his post "The Chilean Political Crisis and Constitutions as Magic Bullets", Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera’s approval rate was at 14%. Less than a week later, polls suggest a worrying and unprecedented 9% support. Although President Piñera has adopted significant measures, people are still protesting. It is not likely that this will change until the people have had the opportunity to participate in constitutional deliberations – and it is now upon the President to act.

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The Chilean Political Crisis and Constitutions as Magic Bullets

Chile is currently experiencing the most severe crisis since the dictatorship. One of the proposals to solve this crisis is to replace the current Constitution. Proponents of a constitutional replacement should consider two caveats: First, the constitution-making process should not weaken the representative institutions but strengthen them, and second, the promises need to be realistic as Constitutions are not magic bullets capable of instantaneously responding to social demands.

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Resentment, Populism and Political Strategies in Italy

After Matteo Salvini announced his plan of holding snap elections, the former Italian prime minister (Presidente del Consiglio), Matteo Renzi launched the idea to postpone elections by forming a transistional government supported by the Partito democratico and the MoVimento 5 stelle, amongst others. Renzi knows that, according to the polls, Salvini’s political party (the Lega) could win the elections and form a government with Fratelli d’Italia, a post-fascist and still far-right party or with Forza Italia, the party created by Silvio Berlusconi. But would this move prevent a populist government?

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Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism: Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution

Unlike other federations, where geography or administrative conveniences have been used to organize the federation, Ethiopia has opted to take ethnicity as the point of departure for the remaking of the Ethiopian map. In light of growing tensions, however, it is time to rethink this model of federal structure.

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New Cuban Constitution: Towards a System Without a Single Leader

Ten years after the retirement and subsequent death of Fidel Castro, Cuba is going through an extensive constitutional reform process to transform the political system. Whereas the previous system was designed to be headed by a single leader, the future constitutional setup will distribute power among several people.

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The Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Means for Change or Consolidation of Paralysis?

On October 7th, general elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its Constitution was meant to be an interim solution, setting up a complex structure of division of power between the three major ethnic groups leading to political paralysis. Constitutional reform is thus a pressing issue but the recent elections appear to reinforce the deadlock situation instead of paving the way for much needed change.

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