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Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

9. Constitutions, rights, and judicial power  

Alec Stone Sweet

This chapter focuses on the evolution of systems of constitutional justice since 1787. It first provides an overview of key concepts and definitions, such as constitution, constitutionalism, and rights, before presenting a simple theory of delegation and judicial power. In particular, it explains why political elites would delegate power to constitutional judges, and how to measure the extent of power, or discretion, delegated. It then considers different kinds of constitutions, rights, models of constitutional review, and the main precepts of ‘the new constitutionalism’. It also traces the evolution of constitutional forms and suggests that as constitutional rights and review has diffused around the world, so has the capacity of constitutional judges to influence, and sometimes determine, policy outcomes.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

9. Constitutions, Rights, and Judicial Power  

Alec Stone Sweet

This chapter focuses on the evolution of systems of constitutional justice since 1787. It first provides an overview of key concepts and definitions, such as constitution, constitutionalism, and rights, before presenting a simple theory of delegation and judicial power. In particular, it explains why political elites would delegate power to constitutional judges, and how to measure the extent of power, or discretion, delegated. It then considers different kinds of constitutions, rights, models of constitutional review, and the main precepts of ‘the new constitutionalism’. It also traces the evolution of constitutional forms and suggests that as constitutional rights and review has diffused around the world, so has the capacity of constitutional judges to influence, and sometimes determine, policy outcomes.

Chapter

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.

Chapter

Cover Origins and Evolution of the European Union

14. The European Union  

A Constitutional Order in the Making

Berthold Rittberger

This chapter examines how the European Union acquired distinctive constitution-like features. It begins with a discussion of three routes to constitutionalization: the first is through changes in the EU's primary law; the second focuses on ‘in between’ constitutionalization; and the third leads directly to the European Court of Justice and its jurisprudence. The chapter proceeds by discussing two developments that have shaped the EU constitutional order almost since the beginning: the emergence of a body of EU law constituting a set of higher-order legal rules, and the consolidation of the constitutional principle of representative democracy. It explains how the supremacy and direct effect of EU law, as well as the EU court's concern with the protection of fundamental rights, helped transform the EU into a constitutional polity. It also considers how the extension of the legislative, budgetary, and other powers of the European Parliament animated the constitutional principle.

Book

Cover Origins and Evolution of the European Union
Origins and Evolution of the European Union provides an authoritative account of the emergence and evolution of the European Union from the aftermath of World War II to the uncertainties of the present era. It explains the forces, events, and individuals that have shaped one of the most unusual and controversial political entities in history. This second edition covers key issues including the antecedents of European integration in the years before World War II; the challenges of reconstruction and reconciliation in the early post-war period; the ups and downs of European integration in 1960s and 1970s; the acceleration of European integration in the late 1980s and early 1990s; almost-continuous enlargement; the eurozone crisis; the constitutionalization of the EU; and Britain's troubled membership. The text is updated throughout and includes new chapters focusing on the United Kingdom and European integration, and the constitutionalization of the EU.

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 Political Thinkers

22. J. S. Mill on Liberty  

Paul Kelly

This chapter examines John Stuart Mill's views on liberty. It first provides a short biography of Mill before discussing his revision of psychological hedonism in light of accusations by Thomas Carlyle, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his followers, that Mill's hedonistic naturalism is no better than a philosophy for ‘swine’. Mill addressed this charge by drawing a categorical distinction between higher and lower pleasures. The chapter also considers the equally problematic attempt to derive Mill's liberty principle from an act-utilitarian moral philosophy as well as the claim that Mill's religion of humanity involves a form of moral and philosophical coercion as great as anything he challenges. It concludes with an analysis of Mill's Considerations on Representative Government and shows that its defence of constitutional democracy reflects his philosophical liberalism.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

3. Democratic and Undemocratic States  

Richard Rose

This chapter discusses the distinction between democratic and undemocratic states, noting that it is not only about whether there are elections: it is about whether or not it there is the rule of law. When both conditions are met, elections are free and fair and the government is accountable to the electorate. When laws can be bent or broken, unfair elections represent the will of governors more than that of the governed. The chapter first defines democratic states and outlines the characteristics of a democratic state before assessing the state of states today. It then considers three kinds of undemocratic states, namely: constitutional oligarchy, plebiscitarian autocracy, and unaccountable autocracy. It also examines how democratization has more often come about by trial and error rather than through gradual evolution and concludes by analysing the dynamics of democratic and undemocratic states.

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 European Union Politics

12. The European Parliament  

Charlotte Burns

This chapter focuses on the European Parliament (EP), an institution that has been transformed from being a relatively powerless institution into one that is able to have a genuine say in the legislative process and hold the European Union’s executive bodies to account. However, increases in the Parliament’s formal powers have not been matched by an increase in popular legitimacy: decreasing turnout in European elections up to 2014 turned around in 2019, but an increasing share of the vote is now going to populist Eurosceptic parties. The EP’s legislative power is comparable to that of many national parliaments, but it has struggled to connect with the wider European public. The chapter explores these issues: the EP’s evolution from talking shop to co-legislator; its powers and influence; its internal structure and organization, with a focus on the role and behaviour of the political groups. Finally, the EP’s representative function as the EU’s only directly elected institution is discussed.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

2. The history of EU institutions:  

seven decades of institutional change

Renaud Dehousse and Paul Magnette

EU institutions have frequently been reformed since the origins of what is now the European Union (EU), and particularly so over the past twenty years. This chapter explains why and how this quasi-constant change has taken place. It begins by identifying five phases in this history: the founding, consolidation, relaunch, adaptation, and the current phase of reaction to functional challenges. The chapter then assesses the respective weight of state interests, ideas, and institutions in the evolution of EU institutions. In retrospect, institutional change in the EU appears to have followed a functionalist logic, leading to complex compromises that, in turn, prompt regular calls for ‘simplification’ and democratization.

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.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

11. Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu  

Manjeet Ramgotra

This chapter examines the political theory and writings of French Enlightenment thinker, Montesquieu. It contends that Montesquieu’s constitutional theory of the separation of powers promoted a strong government which advanced individual freedom, maintained internal stability against absolutism and populism, and allowed the state to expand its boundaries at a moment in history when European powers were fighting each other to establish colonial empires across the world. The chapter presents the contexts in which he composed The Spirit of the Laws (1748), and then discusses Montesquieu’s typology of governments and considers the various notions of time and progress that undergird his view of how the various constitutions in the world are ordered. Finally, the chapter looks at commerce, peace, colonialism, and slavery, bringing to light the tensions and contradictions in Montesquieu’s thought.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

3. Carrying the EU Forward: The Era of Lisbon  

Clive Church and David Phinnemore

This chapter explores how the EU ended a long period of constitutional change by agreeing the Treaty of Lisbon and used it to face new challenges of financial crisis, Brexit, and Covid-19—the latter events leading to thoughts that further treaty change might be needed. The process started with the 2002–03 Convention on the Future of Europe leadin to the Constitutional Treaty of 2004 and in October 2007 produced the Treaty of Lisbon which eventually entered into force on 1 December 2009. Its implementation was complicated by the eurozone crisis, resulting in extra-treaty arrangements and another treaty amendment. Although the official appetite for treaty reform all but evaporated in the 2010s, the UK’s June 2016 vote to quit the EU raised the hopes for further changes. The end of the 2010s and into the 2020s saw Brexit being negotiated within the terms of the Treaty of European Union the EU’s treaty agreeing measures to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Calls for treaty revision continued but active steps to re-negotiate the consolidated treaties have not yet begun.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the European Union

10. From Amsterdam to Lisbon (2000–09)  

This chapter examines the new strategy adopted in March 2000 by a special European Council in Lisbon to make the European Union (EU) more competitive, culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Amsterdam Treaty had scarcely entered into force before further Treaty reform emerged on the agenda. Throughout the year 2000, a new intergovernmental conference met to address outstanding institutional issues that had not been settled at Amsterdam. It concluded in December 2000 with the longest European Council in history, which led to the Treaty of Nice. The chapter first considers the Nice Treaty, before discussing the Lisbon Strategy, the European Security and Defence Policy, the Constitutional Treaty, the issue of enlargement, the European Parliament (EP), and the nomination of a new European Commission. It ends with a discussion of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Chapter

Cover The Politics of International Law

4. International organizations, states, and global governance  

This chapter evaluates global governance and how it relates to international law. It addresses the role of international organizations in processes of global governance, charting their rise from the nineteenth century onwards. Two international organizations exemplify semi-legalized governance beyond the state: the United Nations and the European Union. Sovereign states, of course, continue to play a central role in the institutions, processes, and mechanisms of global governance. The chapter then explores the extent to which a state’s power, influence, and legitimacy are affected by factors such as its domestic political arrangements and its adherence to the liberal, Western values that underpin the postwar order. It also assesses whether the proliferation of legalized and semi-legalized global governance regimes amounts to a constitutionalization of international relations.