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Article

Constitutional Resilience and Unamendability

Amendment Powers as Mechanisms of Constitutional Resilience

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords constitutional change, constitutional resilience, unamendability, constitutional identity
Authors Xenophon Contiades and Alkmene Fotiadou
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article aims to explore the relationship between unamendability and constitutional resilience. Inspired by Roznai’s theory on the limits of amendment powers, this article seeks to examine how such limits may function as a mechanism of constitutional resilience exploring how unamendability may impact the resilience of a constitution, allowing it to withstand crises while retaining its core functions. The key question is whether entrenchment enhances resilience through its protective shield or, by contrast, fetters resilience by foreclosing adaptability – what does not bend often breaks. The complex relationship between unamendability and constitutional resilience unfolds in the context of different amendment patterns.


Xenophon Contiades
Xenophon Contiades is Professor of Public Law, Panteion University; Managing Director of the Centre for European Constitutional Law, Athens, Greece.

Alkmene Fotiadou
Alkmene Fotiadou is Research Fellow, Centre for European Constitutional Law.
Article

The Eternity Clause

Lessons from the Czech Example

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords eternity clause, constitutional amendment, Czech Republic
Authors Ondřej Preuss
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents lessons from the Czech example of the so-called Eternity Clause’ i.e. a legal standard declaring certain principles, values or specific constitutional provisions to be unalterable and irrevocable. The Eternity Clause is viewed and applied in the Czech Republic as a substantive legal ‘instrument’ that enables society to preserve its values. It is used to limit practical ‘power’ and to maintain desired values and the political system.
    That the Eternity clause is a practical instrument has already been proved by the Czech Constitutional Court in its famous ‘Melcák’ decision. However, recent developments show that the Czech Constitutional Court is no longer open to such a ‘radical’ approach. Nonetheless, it still seems that the court is prepared to defend the values of liberal democracy, just not in such a spectacular way. It is, therefore, more up to the political actors or the people themselves to use Eternity Clause arguments to protect liberal democracy and its values.


Ondřej Preuss
Faculty of Law, Charles University (preuss@prf.cuni.cz). This article was written under the “Progress 04: Law in a Transforming World” programme.
Article

Unamendability and Constitutional Identity in the Italian Constitutional Experience

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords Unamendability, constitutional identity, republic, counterlimits, European integration, Italy
Authors Pietro Faraguna
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article explores the historical roots of the explicit unamendable clause(s) in the Italian Constitution. Following, it explores the scholarly debate over the interpretation of unamendable provisions. The article investigates theories of implicit unamendability of the Italian Constitution, and, in particular, it analyses the crucial role played by the Constitutional Court of Italy (ICC) and the principles that characterize Italian constitutional identity. Furthermore, the article explores the other side of constitutional identity, namely the theory of ‘counterlimits.’ The ICC specified that constitutional identity not only sets a limit to constitutional amendment powers but also sets ‘counterlimits’ to the entry of external norms (i.e., supranational and international law) in the domestic legal system. Finally, the article draws some conclusions and argues that the two sides of constitutional identity, although legally and logically independent, mutually reinforce each other and, ultimately, reinforce the counter-majoritarian nature of unamendability.


Pietro Faraguna
Pietro Faraguna is Assistant professor of constitutional law, University of Trieste.
Article

Constitutional Narcissism on the Couch of Psychoanalysis

Constitutional Unamendability in Portugal and Spain

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords unamendable/ eternity clauses, de jure and de facto constitutional change, constitutional narcissism, foundational design, helicopter founding fathers, constitutional alma mater
Authors Catarina Santos Botelho
AbstractAuthor's information

    Comparing the Portuguese Constitution, which has the longest unamendable clause in the world, with the silence of the Spanish Constitution regarding the language of eternity is indeed a fascinating exercise. Each state’s quantum of constitutional change seems to be quite different. One can wonder how two neighbouring states that share a heavy history of right-wing dictatorships and transitioned to democracy forty years ago opted for such dissimilar constitutional designs. However, appearances are often misleading, and an effort should be done to unveil this curious mismatch.
    Both legal orders suffer from what I call constitutional narcissism, which manifests itself through the urge to perpetuate the foundational constitutional moment. Unamendable clauses (Portugal) and quasi-unamendable clauses (Spain) recast one of constitutional theory’s inner paradoxes: Can the constituent power of the people be petrified in one historical constituent decision and constrain future democratic transitions? And what if a volatile contemporary majority seeks to undermine the democratic process and run against the constitutional DNA achievements of the last centuries?
    Even if the original version of the Portuguese Constitution prohibited several provisions from ever being amended, some of these provisions were indeed modified or removed in the 1989 constitutional amendment process. This occurred without major disagreement from the political organs, scholars, or the judiciary. Therefore, the vexata quaestio remains unanswered: Given their obsolescence or hindrance towards good governance, should entrenchment clauses be eliminated de jure (through a channelled constitutional amendment process, such as the double amendment procedure) or de facto (through a revolutionary process materialized outside of the constitutional framework)?


Catarina Santos Botelho
Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Constitutional Law at the Porto Faculty of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. Email: cbotelho@porto.ucp.pt. I thank Paul Kahn, Nuno Garoupa, Richard Albert, Gonçalo Almeida Ribeiro, Yaniv Roznai, Ana Teresa Ribeiro, and Luís Heleno Terrinha for their very helpful comments.

Lech Garlicki
Lech Garlicki is a Former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights and a Professor of constitutional law at the University of Warsaw.

Yaniv Roznai
Yaniv Roznai is Senior Lecturer, Harry Radzyner Law School, IDC Herzliya.
Article

Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in Turkey

The Question of Unamendability

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords judicial review of constitutional amendments, constitutional unamendability, judicial activism, competitive authoritarianism, abusive constitutionalism
Authors Ergun Özbudun
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article deals with the judicial review of constitutional amendments, which has been a hotly debated constitutional and political issue in Turkey, particularly with regard to the unamendable provisions of the constitution. Since its creation by the Constitution of 1961, the Turkish Constitutional Court has followed a markedly activist and tutelarist approach regarding this issue and annulled several constitutional amendments arguing that they violated the unamendable provisions of the Constitution. Recently, however, the Court adopted a self-restraining approach. This shift can be explained as part of the political regime’s drift towards competitive authoritarianism and the governing party’s (AKP) capturing almost total control over the entire judiciary.


Ergun Özbudun
Ergun Özbudun is Professor of Constitutional Law at İstanbul Şehir University. This is an enlarged and updated version of my article ‘Judicial Review of Constitutional Amendments in Turkey’, European Public Law, Vol. 15, No. 4, 2009, pp. 533-538.
Article

Transitional Constitutional Unamendability?

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords transitional constitutionalism, constitutional unamendability, decline of constitutional democracy, constitution-making in Hungary, the Hungarian Constitutional Court
Authors Gábor Halmai
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article discusses the pros and cons for a suggestion to use unamendable provisions in transitional constitutions to protect the integrity and identity of constitutions drafted after a democratic transition. The presumption for such a suggestion could be that most democratic constitution-making processes are elite-driven exercises in countries with no or very little constitutional culture. The article tries to answer the question, whether in such situations unamendable constitutional provisions can help to entrench basic principles and values of constitutionalism with the help of constitutional courts reviewing amendments aimed at violating the core of constitutionalism. The article investigates the experiences of some backsliding constitutional democracies, especially Hungary, and raises the question, whether unamendable constitutional provision could have prevented the decline of constitutionalism.
    In order to discuss the issue of transitional unamendability, the article engages in the scholarly discussion on transitional constitutionalism in general, and deals with the relationship of constitutional law and constitutional culture. Another side topic of the article is whether such transitional unamendability provisions should also contain international or transnational values and principles, and what happens if those are not in conformity with the unamendable provisions that serve to build up a national constitutional identity. Again, the example of Hungary can be important here, how national constitutional identity protected by the Constitutional Court can serve to abandon the European constitutional whole.


Gábor Halmai
Gábor Halmai is Professor and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, European University Institute, Florence; email: gabor.halmai@eui.eu.
Article

Access_open Constitutional Norms for All Time?

General Entrenchment Clauses in the History of European Constitutionalism

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2019
Keywords constitutional amendments, constitutional law, constitutional politics, constitutionalism, entrenchment clauses, eternity clauses
Authors Michael Hein
AbstractAuthor's information

    ‘General entrenchment clauses’ are constitutional provisions that make amendments to certain parts of a constitution either more difficult to achieve than ‘normal’ amendments or even impossible, i.e., legally inadmissible. This article examines the origins of these clauses during the American Revolution (1776-77), their migration to the ‘Old World’, and their dissemination and differentiation on the European continent from 1776 until the end of 2015. In particular, the article answers three questions: (1) When, and in which contexts, did general constitutional entrenchment clauses emerge? (2) How have they migrated to and disseminated in Europe? (3) Which constitutional subjects do such clauses protect, and thus, which main functions do they aim to fulfil?


Michael Hein
Adult Education Center Altenburger Land, Altenburg, Germany. Email: mail@michaelhein.de. All cited websites were visited on June 18, 2018. Unless stated otherwise, all references to constitutions in this article are taken from M. Hein, The Constitutional Entrenchment Clauses Dataset, Göttingen 2018, http://data.michaelhein.de. All translations are by the author.
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