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Constitutional Learning

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Abstract:

Constitutional politics has returned in our time in a truly dramatic way. In the last 25 years, not only in the new or restored democracies of South and East Europe, Latin America and Africa, but also in the established liberal or not so liberal democracies of Germany, Italy, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain, issues of constitution-making, constitutional revision and institutional design or redesign have been put on the political agenda. Even in the United States, given the new or renewed problems of our versions of presidentialism, federalism and electoral regime, Article V has come to be experienced as a veritable prison house, and judicial constitution-making (think of Buckley v Valejo) is often seen as much as a threat to, as the protection of, democratic mechanisms. And, most recently, in countries currently experiencing externally imposed revolutions, namely Afghanistan and Iraq, constitution-making has turned out to be a central stake in the ongoing political process. We are living in an epoch in which the nations seem to be slouching, or being prodded, toward Philadelphia and Americans, as the heirs of Madison and MacArthur, are sorely tempted to try teaching others the secrets of its success as a supposedly continuous 200-year-old constitutional democracy. But to be an effective teacher, it is not enough to be in a position of political-military superiority. One must first relearn to learn and even to re-learn.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/004058105780929273

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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