Until the previous decade, constitutionalism in Eastern Europe was considered to be an outmoded concept of the nineteenth century. Changes in the region, however, have brought back the fundamental question of the need to restrict government power through social self-binding.
This book discusses the mechanisms of such restriction, including different forms of the separation of powers and constitutional review. It relates the theoretical and practical importance of the issue to the present world-wide discontent with majoritarian democracy and the growing disrepute of parliaments. Increasing executive efficiency is, however, a threat to fundamental rights, and the battlecry of efficiency is often only a means to new despotism and inefficiency. A careful re-evaluation of the concept of constitutionalism assists in the search for a useful balance between majoritarianism and rights, and in the avoidance of all forms of public tyranny.
Written in non-technical language and using the most important English, American, French, and German examples of constitutional history, the book also examines East European (in particular, Russian) and Latin American examples, in part to illustrate certain dead-ends in constitutional development. It is intended to be an introduction for all those concerned with liberty.
Chapter 1: The constitution as fear and acceptance
Chapter 2: The taming of democracy
Chapter 3: Dangerous liaisons: checks and balances and the separation of powers
Chapter 4: Parliamentarism and the legislative branch
Chapter 5: The executive power
Chapter 6: The rule-of-law state and its executors
Chapter 7: Constitutional adjudication
Chapter 8: Fundamental rights