Constitutions and Political Theory

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Manchester University Press, 1996 - Political Science - 294 pages
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Since constitutional arrangements are what make polities work, they are a central concern of political theory. This book is the first comprehensive exploration of the political theory of constitutions. Jan-Erik Lane begins by examining the origins and history of constitutionalism, the doctrine that the state must be regulated by means of a set of institutions that guarantee citizen rights and procedural accountability. He then examines the structure of the state in order to identify the essential elements that constitutional institutions regulate. Lane asks why constitutions exist, and how they matter for society. Finally he seeks out the requirements for a fair and democratic constitution by referring to three key concepts in political theory: justice, equality and the rule of law. The book also offers a comparative survey of formal constitutional arrangements in different countries, and an analysis of how constitutions develop in practice, through the implementation of constitutional and administrative law in a country's courts. Constitutions and political theory is a thorough and coherent introduction to the key debates and concepts of the study of political theory and constitutional law. It provides both analysis and practical examples of how constitutions operate today.
  

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Contents

List of tables and figures
12
History of constitutionalism
19
The constitutional perspective
41
Two great constitutional paths
63
The state institutional elements
89
Figures
103
Mini or maxi constitutions in the world
110
Constitutional law and the legal order
136
decision costs
182
Do constitutions matter?
187
5a Presidentialism and firm democracy
203
Is there a best constitution?
217
Democracy and constitutionalism
243
Bibliography
265
Index
285
Copyright

Why constitutions?
165

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About the author (1996)

Jan-Erik Lane has been full professor at the universities of Umea (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), and Geneva (Switzerland). He has published widely in comparative politics, public administration, and international studies.

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