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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

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?

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

The Draft Amendments to the Serbian Constitution: Populism before Judicial Independence

Serbia is currently abuzz with draft constitutional amendments that should enhance judicial independence and move the country one step closer to EU accession. On 12 April 2018, the Serbian Government adopted the draft amendments and sent them to the Venice Commission. However, while at present the political influence on the judiciary comes from the political institutions, in the future this influence will come from the ruling majority.

Continue Reading →

Complexities of Constitutional Change in the Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in July 2016, His party, PDP-Laban, had campaigned under the slogan: “No to Drugs, Yes to Federalism”. Duterte thus is committed to shepherding the Philippines towards a federal form of government; an undertaking that would require an extensive overhaul of the country’s constitution. The future of constitutional change under Duterte in any event is uncertain for a series of constitutional and political reasons. Critically, some of the most pressing of these concern the process of constitutional change itself. 

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →