Political Parties and Constitutional Change

Shane Martin and Bjørn Erik Rasch

This chapter explores why constitutions are changed. The chapter begins with an overview of why constitutional design and redesign are important questions. The second section provides a background to the study of constitutional change which has tended to be embedded within legal scholarship rather than political science.

The third section reviews competing theories of constitutional change, noting the general absence of political parties from these theories and the lack of success in explaining observed patterns of constitutional amendments. The next section suggests the need to “bring the party in” and suggests how incorporating the preferences of parties and the shape of the party system can advance our understanding of constitutional change. A number of empirical cases suggest that parties and party systems shape constitutional change are discussed briefly. The chapter concludes with suggestions for how further progress can be made in integrating research on parties and party systems with research on constitutional change.


Chapter 11 (pp. 205-229) in Wolfgang C. Müller and Hanne Marthe Narud, eds. 2013. Party Governance and Party Democracy. New York: Springer.

Published Sep. 24, 2014 10:10 AM