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Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

10. Law, Constitutions, and Federalism  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter examines how laws, constitutions, and federalism provide structure to the context of political life. It first considers the importance of constitutions in determining the basic structure of the state and the fundamental rights of citizens that they establish before asking whether the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is Western-centric. It then explores different ways in which states may attempt to realize justice in applying the law, with particular emphasis on differences between Islamic and Western practice. It also discusses the importance of constitutional courts, the ways that the institution of federalism contains the powers of the state and manage diverse societies, and consociationalism as an alternative approach to managing such diversity. Finally, it comments on the increasing legalization of political life.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

10. Law, Constitutions, and Federalism  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter examines how laws, constitutions, and federalism provide structure to the context of political life. It first considers the importance of constitutions in determining the basic structure of the state and the fundamental rights of citizens that they establish before asking whether the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is Western-centric. It then explores different ways in which states may attempt to realize justice in applying the law, with particular emphasis on differences between Islamic and Western practice. It also discusses the importance of constitutional courts, the ways that the institution of federalism contains the powers of the state and manage diverse societies, and consociationalism as an alternative approach to managing such diversity. Finally, it comments on the increasing legalization of political life.

Chapter

Cover Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

11. Institutional Drivers of Democracy  

This chapter describes how the institutional design of new democracies affect their political evolution. By institutions, it refers to formal political institutions, including political parties, electoral systems, and state design (namely federal versus unitary states). In addition to the decision to create a federal versus a unitary state, some scholars and policymakers have advocated for a consociational approach to democracy in countries that feature significant ethnic, religious or other cleavages. Consociational democracy is essentially a democracy that allows for significant power sharing—or the ability to access positions of power—among the country's various factions. Ultimately, institutions can play a particularly critical role in the consolidation and sustainment of democracy because they structure and constrain political behaviour. The chapter then considers the relationship between institutions and democratization.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

15. Institutional Design in New Democracies  

Matthijs Bogaards

This chapter focuses on electoral systems and institutional design in new democracies. It first compares Maurice Duverger’s electoral laws with those of Giovanni Sartori before discussing the main insights from the literature on electoral systems in established democracies as well as evidence from new democracies. It then considers the impact of the electoral law on the type of party system and its role as intermediary between society and government in plural societies. It also examines the party system as an independent variable, along with dependent variables such as the number of political parties, social cleavages, and presidentialism. Finally, it discusses consociational democracy and how electoral system design can be used in managing ethnic conflicts.

Chapter

Cover Politics

11. Laws, Constitutions, and Federalism  

This chapter explores the interrelationships between law, constitutions, and federalism. It first explains the importance of constitutions in shaping the basic structure of the state and the fundamental rights of citizens that they establish before discussing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular asking whether it is Western-centric. It then considers the ways in which states may attempt to realize justice in applying the law, with emphasis on the distinction between Islamic and Western practice. It also examines the role of constitutional courts and judicial review, legal adjudication of political problems, how the institution of federalism is used to contain the powers of the state and to manage diverse societies, and consociationalism as an alternative approach to handling social diversity. Finally, it analyses the increasing legalization of political life.