The Counter-Enlightenment Strikes Back

How does one make sense of the piece of legislation known as the “Constitution” in a political context where there are no effective mechanisms for its enforcement, and where constitutional text and political reality diverge dramatically? For the longest part of the post-1989 era, the majority of Chinese jurists approached this predicament with an avowedly reformist attitude. Using the familiar language of Enlightenment universalism, they called for the gradual overcoming, through an empowered judiciary, of the rift separating political reality from normative ideal: China, it was said, was “marching toward an age of rights”.

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COVID-19, Constitutionalism and Emergencies under Ghana’s 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution

Ghana has adopted several measures in tackling the COVID-19 global pandemic, chief among them being the enactment of new legislation to tackle the issue, and the exercise of powers under pre-existing legislation. A formal state of emergency has not been declared in the wake of the pandemic, leading to debates, for instance regarding the impact of the current situation on the 2020 elections.

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Is there a space for federalism in times of emergency?

In many legal cultures, federalism is the real “F word”. It stands for inequality, privileges, inefficiency. For many, there seems to be an inherent contradiction between the obvious requirement of a coordinated line of command in case of emergency and a pluralistic territorial structure. A closer look at the comparative practice shows a different picture. Has federalism really been an obstacle to effective decision-making? Or rather the opposite?

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Ecuador – Constitutionalism and Covid-19

When referring to the rule of law and constitutionalism we must be extremely cautious: Ecuador was founded in 1830 after the dissolution of Great Colombia, and in just 190 years has adopted 20 constitutions. The current Ecuadorian Constitution dates from 2008. This means that the nation does not possess a strong constitutional tradition nor a culture of promotion of the rule of law. On the contrary, Ecuador has a long history of institutional breakdowns and coup d’états which were caused by political and economic crisis. However, these were nothing compared with the situation all Ecuadorians are currently facing.

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Hong Kong’s Basic Law at 30: A Constitutional Experiment under Stress

On April 4, 2020, the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HK Basic Law) turned 30. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has been and continues to be confronted with many challenges, including those concerned with the implementation of the HK Basic Law. Ultimately, it will depend on the Chinese Central Authorities and the Hong Kong institutions if the HK Basic Law is to remain the centrepiece in the governance of Hong Kong.

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Taiwan’s Fight against COVID-19: Constitutionalism, Laws, and the Global Pandemic

Taiwan has demonstrated to the world its strength and success in combating the spread of COVID-19 despite decades of exclusion from the World Health Organization (WHO) and ongoing bullying from the People’s Republic of China (China). Given its geographical proximity and close economic exchanges with China, Taiwan was estimated to be heavily hit by the spread of COVID-19 originated from Wuhan, China. Reversing the trend, Taiwan has maintained a considerably low number of confirmed cases, and detected most cases of possible community spread, while Europe, the United States and the rest of the world are struggling with an ongoing global pandemic.

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Round Table: An Adept Device for Constitutional Politics

The year 1989 entered history books as the year of the peaceful dismantling of Soviet-type regimes in East-Central Europe. These regimes did not collapse because of classical revolutions; the process ultimately involved round table negotiations between delegates of the undemocratic powerholders and the democratic opposition. Today the people in the Visegrád countries are divided in their opinions regarding the round tables, not least because of the widespread questioning of its achievements.

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Chinese (Anti-)­Constitutionalism

Many (Verfassungs-)blog posts on China, be it on tweets, white papers, or the Social Credit System, criticize legal institutions and realities by highlighting their difference from “Western” or constitutionalist traditions. This makes it rather easy for the explicitly anti-Western and anti-constitutionalist official Chinese system of thought, Sino-Marxism, to reject any criticism – either as Eurocentric, (legal) Orientalist, and “culturally hegemonic” or as ignorant of “theoretical basis” of the Chinese system. Knowing Sino-Marxism, which provides powerful political but only limited analytical tools, is thus crucial for transnational and global constitutionalists in order to defend their values without being accused of a lack of understanding – also in the current case of Hong Kong.

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10 Anti-Constitutional Commandments

Poland is on the eve of the parliamentary elections to be held on October 13, 2019. This provides a good opportunity to step back for a second to analyse the turbulent years of 2015-2019 and to piece together scattered elements of a new constitutional doctrine that has emerged since November 2015. Such a perspective should help readers of Verfassungsblog to truly understand and appreciate the scale and depth of the change that has happened to the prevalent (and what was presumed to be unshakeable) post-1989 constitutional paradigms.

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