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Cover Comparative European Politics

10. Constitutions and Courts  

Nuno Garoupa and Pedro C. Magalhães

This chapter focuses on the constitutions of European countries as well as on the mechanisms in place to interpret and enforce them. It starts by defining ‘constitution’. It then proceeds to a discussion about the role of courts and constitutional review of legislation. Focusing in particular on centralized constitutional review, it describes the variety of powers enjoyed by contemporary constitutional courts. Existing mechanisms for litigation and judicial appointment are also considered. Finally, it addresses the existing empirical evidence about both judicial behaviour in such courts and their political impact. The chapter concludes with an examination of current trends in the direction of supranational constitutionalism and constitutional review.