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Constitutions for New Democracies: Reflections of Turmoil or Agents of Stability?

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Ordeshook, Peter C.
Date: 1995
Agency: Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Series: Social Science Working Paper, no. 924
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5872
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Former Soviet Union
Subject(s): constitutional analysis
Abstract: "Despite the widely held view in newly emerging democracies that constitutions are mere words on paper or that parchment barriers cannot render a state stable or democratic, those who draft such documents commonly act as if words ARE of consequence. The difficulty, however, is that contemporaneous conflicts too easily intervene so as to corrupt the drafting process and to preclude optimal constitutional design. The specific principle of design most likely to be violated is the proposition that we treat all parts of the constitution as an interconnected whole and that we not try to assess the consequences of one part without appreciating the full meaning of all other parts. This essay illustrates this violation by looking at the new Russian Constitution, ratified by direct popular vote in December 1993, with special attention paid to that document's treatment of federalism. We offer the additional argument, however, that even contemporary research in political institutional design pays insufficient heed to this principle."

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