No Need for a New Constitution in Brazil

In two recent articles, published in English and Portuguese, Professor Bruce Ackerman argued that the roots of Brazil’s political crisis, with the rise of extremist factions to power, is the 1988 Constitution and the presidential system it established. Under Ackerman’s account, the best response to such crisis would be to convene a new Constituent Assembly in 2023 in order to set up a parliamentary system, while also allowing the constituent delegates to “reconsider key decisions by the Assembly of 1988”. In this article, we intend to engage in this debate by explaining why the intent to promulgate a new Constitution might make things even worse.

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Homophobia Disguised as Children’s Rights in Russia’s Constitutional Referendum

From the 25th of June to the 1st of July, Russia is holding a referendum, in which citizens are asked to vote on a package of amendments to the country’s constitution. The amended constitution could enable President Putin to remain in power until 2036. State officials reportedly played down the resetting of presidential term limits. Instead, they focused on other amendments, especially those concerning faith in god, the preeminence of the Russian language, and the definition of marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman.

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The Downfall of a Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court of Chile faces the worst crisis in its history. It largely stems from the way the Court has exercised its powers in recent years. A blend of judicial activism and an utter disdain for rules has seriously undermined the Court’s reputation and the current shows that the Court has probably risen in prominence for the wrong reasons.

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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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