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Importance of Constitutions to Democracy and Political Stability - Essay Example

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IMPORTANCE OF CONSTITUTIONS TO DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL STABILITY Name of Institution Date Over the decades, constitutions have been the foundation on which nation- states function and the relationship between the citizens and government regulated…
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Importance of Constitutions to Democracy and Political Stability
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Download file to see previous pages 39). That notwithstanding, the importance of constitutions for democracy and political stability cannot be overemphasized. Constitutions and democracy are inextricably linked; the existence and functionality of the either is heavily dependent on that of the other. Constitution and democracy have been defined differently by different scholars and institutions. Despite different definitions there are key elements of each concept that are agreeable across board. According to O'Neil (2010, p. 16), constitution is defined as a set of laws and principles that have been established within a state to facilitate the governing of the state. On the other hand, democracy is defined as system of government in which citizens are equal before the law and can influence the actions, laws, and public policy of that state. In democracies, people are sovereign and are the ultimate source of authority (Gaus and Kukathas, 2004, p. 43). It is important to point out that the near if not inseparable relationship between constitution and democracy has resulted to the emergence of new concept- constitutional democracy. Constitutional democracy refers to the authority of the majority in which the powers, limits, and structures of government are based on the constitution; the government is limited by institutional and legal means so that individuals and minorities’ rights are respected (Gee and Webber, 2010, p. 274). Constitutions have for a long period of time proved to be important for democracy and political stability. This has assertion has, however, caused a raging debate on whether constitutions are important for democracy and political stability in equal measure across countries that uphold it, or they are more important in new or feeble than in long-standing democracies. Therefore, it is important to evaluate these arguments. To begin with, it is no doubt that constitutions are important for democracy and political stability as demonstrated by numerous democracies across the world. Constitution has been fundamental in inspiring democracy and political stability in most democracies across the world such as Japan, the United States, Israel, and Germany among other countries (Gaus and Kukathas, 2004, p. 60). This scenario has been attributed to several essential principles and characteristics of constitutions. The first one is the principle of consent or popular sovereignty; the constitution ensures that the government itself and the authority that it has, has been derived from the majority of the citizens. As such, democracy prevails as the “government is of, by, and for the people”. Along with that, political stability prevails because the incumbent government is in power courtesy of the governed consent. Secondly, the constitution limits the authority of the government and ensures that those in power operate within the limits. As a result, democracy is achieved while few or no instances of political instability can be witnessed. The powers of government are usually limited through procedural and institutional limitations such as checks and balances, separation of powers, leadership succession through periodic elections, and adherence to the due process of law (Gee and Webber, 2010, p. 275-6). Additionally, constitutions inspire democracy and political stability by ensuring that the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens including the minorities are protected. As noted, there is debate on whether ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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