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.

Continue Reading →

Taming the Karlsruhe Dragon

In order to reconcile the conflicting claims for primacy within the parameters set by the BVerfG and EU law, the German parliament could (and should) amend the procedural rules for the BVerfG: the first, and most fundamental of these changes would provide for an order to conduct a referendum on whether Germany should exercise its right to withdraw from the EU under Art. 50 TEU as the only definitive judicial remedy available if a conflict between EU law and the German constitution cannot otherwise be resolved.

Continue Reading →

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.

Continue Reading →

Context Matters

On February 9th, the Armenian parliament authorized a referendum that would allow the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, to remove seven of the current nine justices from the Constitutional Court. Pashinyan has called the decisions of the Court a “threat to democracy”. On its face, this seems like yet another example of a populist leader trying to use a referendum to increase his power. Examining the context of the situation in Armenia, however, paints a different picture.

Continue Reading →

Doch noch ein Verfassungs­referendum in Italien

Die Verkleinerung des italienischen Parlaments wurde im vergangen Oktober beschlossen, jedoch haben sich knapp vor Ablauf der Frist genügend Parlamentarier zusammengeschlossen, um die Entscheidung doch dem Wahlvolk durch ein Verfassungsreferendum zu überlassen. Die traditionelle Scheu der italienischen Wähler vor Verfassungsänderungen dürfte diesmal durch eine Annahme dieses „Reförmchens“ höchstwahrscheinlich überwunden werden. Nichtdestotrotz bestätigt das Vorgehen die Richtigkeit einer Verfassungsbestimmung, die für konstitutionelle Novellierungen einen breiten Konsens vorsieht, damit die Verfassung nicht Spielball der Tagespolitik wird.

Continue Reading →

The People Have Voted, Now Let the People Speak

The Brexit stalemate is unlikely to wither. In a smart spin, distracting from the unlawfulness of the Parliament shutdown, the blame for not delivering Brexit is now put on the Parliament. The Parliament and “the establishment” are pitted against the will of the people. Since the 2016 referendum, however, provided for no clear procedural or substantive mandate, no form of Brexit, including remain, can claim its legitimacy based on the “will of the people” unless there is a second referendum.

Continue Reading →

Why Referendums in Ireland Work Better than in the UK

Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown has recommended the Irish innovation of the citizens’ assembly to inform and guide public opinion. Theresa May, too, included a glancing reference to the notion in her recent House of Commons speech. They are mistaken, though, if they believe that this formula has much to offer in the UK.

Continue Reading →