Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Whither constitutions in 2011?

The turning of the year provides an opportunity to look back at 2010 and ahead at 2011. One of the big themes in 2010 was executive attempts to extend their stay in office: we observed various strategies in Georgia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and elsewhere. Indeed, in the final week of the year, three countries’ parliaments introduced new measures to extend the terms of presidents. (Shameless self-promotion: Zach Elkins, James Melton and I have a draft paper on the topic here.) The recent cases: in Mozambique, the proposal is only in the drafting phases, as a parliamentary committee is examining the issue, and is believed to include an amendment that would allow President Guebuza to seek a third term. In Kazakhstan, parliament endorsed a proposal to allow President Nazarbayev to skip two elections, essentially extending his term through 2020. But even this extension pales compared with the announcement that Yemen’s parliament wished to mke President Saleh president for life.

The major event early in 2011 will be the January 9 referendum in Southern Sudan as to whether to remain part of Sudan or to form an independent nation. This was called for under the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the government in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement. A simultaneous referendum will be held in Abyei on whether to become part of Southern Sudan. If successful, the referendum will lead to a new round of constitution-making in the south–and in Khartoum.

What else will 2011 hold? Reader thoughts are welcome.

–Tom Ginsburg


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