Coping with Conflict at Constitutional Moments

This paper discusses the inherent problems of political engineering through constitutionmaking. It is argued that conflict is often easier to contain in routine politics than at constitutional moments. How, then, does process inflict on inflict on visions and ideas when attempting to create a viable constitutional entity?

ARENA Working Paper 23/2002 (dwt)

Johan P. Olsen

It is a commonplace to argue that democracies require constitutional rules in order to function well; in particular, such rules facilitate conflict resolution and secure a civilized co-existence. Democratic governance signifies an ability to purposefully shape political and social life; institutions are thus instrumentally perceived and constitutional change is seen as engineering of formal rules and structures in order to improve human conditions. However, actual reforms are usually incremental rather than comprehensive and attempts at re-constituting government through radical reform often create stalemate, confrontation and crisis. The theme of this paper is the dynamics through which political order and organized government is constituted and re-constituted; attention is on how basic political rules evolve and change and on the possible significance of reflection, deliberate design and explicit constitutional policy (Verfassungspolitik).

Tags: constitution building, legitimacy, democracy, Constitution for Europe
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM