Month: February 2009
The Danger of Constitutional Deadlines
Alex’s post on the constitutional crisis in Afghanistan — specifically the tension between constitutional deadlines and practical reality — brings to mind similar challenges already encountered by Iraqis as they simultaneously attempt to rebuild a nation, stamp out vestiges of a near civil war, and honor the rule of law.
Constitutional Crisis in Afghanistan
Kabul: Afghanistan is experiencing a complex constitutional crisis concerning the delay of Presidential elections this year, and a fundamental disagreement over what body, if any, has the authority to interpret the post-Taliban constitution ratified in 2004, available here. The immediate crisis is due to the fact that Article 61 of the 2004 Constitution states that “the presidential term shall expire on the 1st of Jawza [May 22] of the fifth year after elections” and that “elections for the new President shall be held within thirty to sixty days prior to the end of the presidential term.”
Figure. Proportion of constitutions that specify an official language Constitutions are often about defining a political community. Adding official (or national) language requirements is a powerful — if potentially exclusionary — way to do so. The figure at left, drawn from the just-uploaded report on language provisions (see the reports!),
Chavez goes to the polls
Hugo Chavez goes to the polls today in his second bid to amend the Venezuelan Constitution to eliminate presidential term limits. Should he lose, he has vowed to leave office when his current term ends in 2012; should he win, he hopes to rule for life.
Self Dealing and Legislatures
It is often tempting, or at least convenient, to charge sitting legislatures with the task of constitution writing. These bodies are usually representative and are built to write laws. Why not trust them with higher law too? One concern is the problem of self dealing.
New reports filing in
As some of you know, we are periodically combing through the Comparative Constitutions Project’s growing dataset on constitutional provisions (of both historical and contemporary constitutions) in order to produce “option” reports on various design provisions. The idea is simply to ensure that drafters know what others have done.
The objective of the Comparative Constitutions Project is…
Constitutions and film are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. As far as I know, no watchable film has been made of even the celebrated summer of 1787 in Philadelphia (“Long Hot Summer II” anyone?). Nevertheless, when Dennis Davis, the well known South African judge and constitutional scholar, recommends a film in the genre you sit up and take notice.
Bolivia and the risks of dissensus
In last week’s constitutional referendum in Bolivia, 59% of voters approved of the proposed constitution. As the dust settles from that highly controversial affair, we can begin to make some observations. Some constitutions “get done” through significant compromise, or at least logrolling.