Borrowing Constitutional Designs: Constitutional Law in Weimar Germany and the French Fifth Republic

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Princeton University Press, 2005 - History - 151 pages

"Cindy Skach's book on Weimar Germany and the French Fifth Republic is a treasure trove of insights not only about the politics of these two countries, but also about the more general significance of constitutional design for the effective functioning of a political system. It brings to the fore the particular political system of 'semi-presidentialism' and offers cautionary analyses for those tempted to believe that it is the perfect 'third way' between parliamentarianism and presidentialism. It deserves wide readership among historians, political scientists, and legal academics."--Sanford Levinson, University of Texas Law School and Department of Government

"In Borrowing Constitutional Designs, Cindy Skach has crafted a very important book--one that could well become the defining interpretation of France's Fifth Republic in particular and of semi-presidentialism more generally. It will redefine how scholars and policymakers understand the operation of semi-presidential political systems. As Skach demonstrates, semi-presidentialism takes different forms, depending on the electoral context."--Jonah Levy, University of California, Berkeley, author of Tocqueville's Revenge

"Borrowing Constitutional Designs provides a skeptical new look at the French model of presidential government that is very influential throughout the world today. In placing it against the background of the Weimar experience with a similar form of government, this book makes a substantial contribution to our constitutional understanding."--Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University

"This lucidly written book is a valuable addition to the literature on comparative politics. It advances discussions of governmental systems by defining and analyzing three types of semi-presidentialism. And it presents well chosen and professionally executed case studies of the French Fifth Republic and Weimar Germany. I learned a great deal from these."--Michael Laver, New York University, author of Representative Government in Modern Europe


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Parties Leaders and Constitutional Law in Eberts Republic
Divided Minorities and Constitutional Dictatorship in Weimar Germany
Parties Leaders and Constitutional Law in de Gaulles Republic
Consolidated Majorities and Constitutional Democracy in the French Fifth Republic

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Page 7 - ... reserve domains," military "prerogatives," or "authoritarian enclaves."2 Third, no regime should be called a democracy unless its rulers govern democratically. If freely elected executives (no matter what the magnitude of their majority) infringe the constitution, violate the rights of individuals and minorities, impinge upon the legitimate functions of the legislature, and thus fail to rule within the bounds of a state of law, their regimes are not democracies.

About the author (2005)

Cindy Skach is Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University, where she is also Faculty Associate of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, the Davis Center for Russian Studies, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

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