• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explain the Success and Failure of Constitutions.

Extracts from this document...


Explain the Success and Failure of Constitutions Constitutions can be defined in a variety of different ways. Duchacek , in 1970 described constitutions as "power maps", in which the formal powers of the state are described and distributed. A more explicit definition can be gauged from Robertson , who describes the constitution as, "a set of rights, powers and procedures regulating the structure of, and relationships among the public authorities and between the public authorities and the citizens." This long definition is condensed by Watson , who describes constitutions as the "rules of the political game" and "the laws that govern the governors." Constitutions usually have come into existence to facilitate a "fresh start" following the demise of the past regime via revolution, independence, or a change in society. Constitutions are not infallible and can fail if the conditions are right; those conditions will be discussed in this essay. ...read more.


Even supposedly rigid, written constitutions can respond to changes in society, an important property if that constitution is to succeed. In the United States, judicial constitutional interpretation plays an important part in placing a constitution written over two hundred years ago into the context of the modern day. Chief Justice Hughes' statement; "We live under a constitution. But the constitution is what the judges say it is." This may not be wholly accurate, but judicial interpretation has been an important factor in the continual evolution of the American Constitution, which encouraging its success. Finally, the success of constitutions can be attributed to the economic factors within the state. Germany and Japan have for the past fifty years possessed successful constitutions, which can, to a degree be attributed to their very strong economies. Following the Second World War, the allies, by buoying up the economies of these two nations, prevented them from falling to the short-term problems, such as nationalism and communism. ...read more.


Many of the fledgling governments fell, as single rulers, often helped by the military filled the vacuum. Countries whose democratic governments survived, for example India and Pakistan experienced the move toward strong centrally controlled government, undermining the democracy the constitution represented. It is often not the constitution that fails, but the regime that facilitates the change because it is weak, and cannot remain in office for too long a period. The constitution may succeed in providing the checks and balances of power, but if the regime lost the support of the military, there would then be scope for change Constitutions are not always liable to succeed; the above examples indicate that. A successful one allows change, can be interpreted by the judiciary and is assisted by a healthy economic climate. A failure is doomed to be ineffective because it is too restrained, and not allowed to change as society develops. Explanations for the success and failure of constitutions can be diverse, particularly in today's global society; the reasons above are only a selection of what can constitute a constitutional success or failiure. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United States section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United States essays

  1. Federalism essay

    In practice the 'federal' government now has many of the constitutional powers of a national government. The US Constitution is a guide, and not a blueprint. The Swiss Constitution has many unique features, which owe themselves to the origin of the Republic.

  2. How is Britain's constitution changing in the 21st century?

    a right to life, liberty, respect for private and family life, and freedom from torture and discrimination. The consequences of the integration of the ECHR into British legislation does have profound effects for the present British constitution. The constitution, though not contained in one document, is becoming increasingly written.

  1. presidential power how far does it go

    However, let us return to the ticking time bomb scenario as a microcosm of the duties men at war, be it at the field level, or at the executive level. Remembering Hamilton's designation of the executive as a position of energy or action, let us remember that in 1790 the

  2. The British Constitution

    The Monarch is required by the government to assent all bills. This is called The Royal Assent. This is a process that allows a bill to become a statute. The role of the Monarch in this process is in fact by convention only.

  1. Was the Weimar constitution a model of democracy or was it providing a blue ...

    The assembly-started work on 6 February 1919 but not in the capital Berlin as it was still tense and disrupted, but at the small town of Weimar. The Weimar was guarded by 7000 Freikorps troops so it would be safe from any type of rebellion.

  2. US Constitution Definition of Terms

    It was argued that the Elastic Clause gave Congress the power to establish a National Bank to hold the money. It allows Congress to pass laws that are needed as time changes. It was a point of much contention between those who favoured a loose reading of the Constitution and those who favoured a strict reading.

  1. Assess the view that the US Constitution often ensures limited government

    They are the first 10 amendments to the constitution, ratified by the states in 1791, and are guaranteed constitutional rights, entrenched in the constitution[24]. Although called the Bill of Rights, these 10 amendments are essentially a ?bill of limits?, because the amendments limit the powers of the national government over the rights and liberties of individuals.

  2. American Government Term Paper #1. Discuss the theory of Checks and Balances as outlined ...

    In order to create an active and powerful government, like the framers intended, they also incorporated the elastic clause (necessary and proper clause), ?which provides Congress the authority to make all laws necessary and proper to carry out the other powers given to Congress? (We the People).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work