Nenad Dimitrijevic
Winter Trimesters 1995/96
Department of Political Science

Course Description

The aim of this course is to explore the meaning of constitutionalism in exceptional times (more specifically: in "transition" from communism to democracy). It will be argued that in a post-revolutionary era constitution-making is not merely "the hour of the lawyers"; neither is constitution simply the highest legal act. Institutionalizing profound changes, post-revolutionary constitutions define a new beginning: the basic task is the re-construction of the common political identity, i.e. normative integration of a new polity. This suggests the close link between the character of revolution and its constitutional outcome.

Terms often used to characterise the nature of 1989/90 events (self-limiting, peaceful, negotiated, velvet etc., revolution) are not merely impressionistic descriptions. They reveal a distinctive orientation of these revolutions (and their actors) toward both communist past and presumed democratic future. This "double reflexivity" is condensed in what could be defined as the absolute faithfulness to the rule of law principle. The somewhat paradoxical verbal coinage "constitutional revolution" points to the radical (revolutionary) change under the umbrella of the constitutional continuity with the old regime.

The relationship between the nature of the revolutionary change and the character of the post communist constitutionalism will serve as the framework for the subsequent analyses, main topics of which are defined below.

Topic One: Rethinking Great Revolutions and Their Outcomes. Permanent Revolution, Counter-revolution, Constitutional Government

Mandatory Readings:
1) H.Arendt, On Revolution, Harmondsworth,1973, p. 141-185

Recommended Readings:
1) R.Koselleck, Historical Criteria of the Modem Concept of Revolution; in: Future Past, Cambridge (Massachusetts),1985, p. 39-55.
2) B.Ackerman, Neo-federalism?; in: J.Elster/R.Slagstad (eds ), Constitutionalism and Democracy, Cambridge 1989, p.153-195

Topic Two: Constitutionalizing Revolution: On the Meaning and Functions of a Post-revolutionary Constitution.

Mandatory Readings:
1) B.Ackerman, The Future of Liberal Revolution, New Haven/ London, 1992, p. 46-69.

Recommended Readings:
1) U.K.Preus, Constitutional Aspects of the Making of Democracy in the Post-Communist Societies of East Europe, "ZERP-Diskussionpapier" (Bremen), 2/1993, p. 1-8; 39-59.
2) S.Holmes, Pre-commitment and the Paradox of Democracy; in: J.Elster/R.Slagstad (eds.), Constitutionalism and Democracy, Cambridge, 1988, p. 195-241.

Topic Three: What Happened in 1989? On the Meaning of the Term "Constitutional Revolution"

Mandatory Readings:
1) A.Arato, Interpreting 1989, "Social Research", 3/1993, p.610-646.
2) J.Kis, Between Reform and Revolution, "Constellations", Vol.1, No.3, 1995, p. 399-422.

Recommended Readings:
1) T.G.Ash, We the People, Cambridge, 1990
2) R.Dahrendorf, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, London,1990

Topic Four: Constitution-Making in Post-Communism l: Constitutional Continuity vs. Complete Revision

Mandatory Readings:
1) A.Arato, Constitution and Continuity in the Transitions, "Constellations", Vol.1, No.1, 1994, p. 92-113.
2) J.Elster, Constitution-Making in Eastern Europe: Re-building the Boat in the Open Sea; in: J.J.Hesse (ed.), Administrative Transformation in Central and Eastern Europe, 169-217.

Recommended Readings:
1) A.Arato, Constitution-Making and Democracy (manuscript, on file with N.D.)
2) D.Howard (ed.), Constitution-Making in Eastern Europe, Washington, 1993

Topic Five: Constitution-Making in Post-Communism II: The Crisis of the Constitutional Continuity

Mandatory Readings:
1-2) As Above
3) S.Holmes, Back to the Drawing Board, "East European Constitutional Review" (hereinafter: "EECR"),1/1993, p. 21-26.
4) J.Kis, Constitution-Making in Small Steps (to be distributed)

Recommended Readings:
As Above

Topic Six: "Impossibility Theorem" and the Constitutional Answer: On the Teleological Quality of Post-Communist Constitutions

Mandatory Readings:
1) J.Elster, The Necessity and Impossibility of Simultaneous Economic and Political Reform; in: D.Greenberg et al (eds.), Constitutionalism and Democracy, New York/Oxford,1993, p. 267-275.
2) U.K.Preus, Patterns of Constitutional Evolution and Change in Eastern Europe, "ZERP-Diskussionspapier", 2/1993, p.1-22.

Recommended Readings:
1) A.Sajo N. Losonci, Rule by Law in East Central Europe: Is the Emperor's New Suit a Straitjacket? in: D. Greenberg et al (eds.): Constitutionalism and Democracy, NewYork/Oxford, 1993, p. 321-335.
2) Claus Offe, Capitalism by Democratic Design?, "Social Research" 4/1991, p. 865-892.

Topic Seven: Human Rights: Their Place in Post-Communist Constitutions

Mandatory Readings:
1) W. Osiatynski, Rights in New Constitutions of East Central Europe, "Columbia Human Rights Law Review", Vol.26, No.1, 1994, p.111-165. (Note: this rather long text is to serve as the basic reading for topic eight as well)
2) J.Elster, On Majoritarianism and Rights, "EECR", 3/1992, p. 19-25.

Recommended Readings:
1) A.Rzeplinski (ed.), Human Rights and Freedoms in New Constitutions in Central and Eastem Europe, Warsaw,1992

Topic Eight: Some Controversies Over Rights: a) Social Rights; b) Are Rights Cost-Dependent

Mandatory Readings:
1) C. Sunstein, Something Old, Something New, "EECR", 1/1992, p.18-21.
2) H. Schwartz, In Defense of Aiming High, "EECR", 3/1992, p. 25-29.
3) C. Sunstein, Against Positive Rights, "EECR", 1/1993, p. 35-38.
4) R.A. Posner, The Costs of Enforcing Legal Rights, "EECR", 3/1995, p. 71-83
5) J. Kis, From Costs and Benefits to Fairness: A Response to R. Posner, "EECR", 3/ 1995, p. 84-87.

Recommended Readings:
1) J. Elster, Human Rights and Constitution-Making Process, in: A Rzeplinski, op.cit, p. 15-31.

Topic Nine: One More Dimension of Human Rights: On Retroactive (Political) Justice and on Whether it is Compatible with Constitutionalism

Mandatory Readings:
1) B. Akerman, The Future of Liberal Revolution, New Haven/ London, 1992, p. 69-99.
2) S. Holmes, The End of Decommunization, "EECR", 3-4/1994, p. 33-36.

Recommended Readings:
1) Dilemmas of Justice, "EECR", 2/1992, p. 17-22.

Topic Ten: Strange Position of Constitutional Courts: Judges as "Guardians of Constitution" or Judges as "Founding Fathers"

Mandatory Readings:
1) H. Schwartz, The New East European Constitutional Courts, in: D. Howard (ed.), "Constitution-Making in Eastern Europe", Washington, 1993, p. 163-207.

Recommended Readings:
1) A. Sajo, Rights: More or Less. Judicial Review in Hungary, (manuscript, on file with N . D.)
2) The New Constitutional Courts, "EECR", 2/1993, p. 28-54.

Topic Eleven: Institutional Choice and its Consequences I. Parliamentary or (Semi)Presidential Government: How to Choose

Mandatory Readings:
1) A. Lijphart, Democratization and Constitutional Choices in Czecho-Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland, 1989-1991; in: G.Szoboszlai (ed.), Flying Blind. emerging democracies in East Central Europe, Budapest, 1992, p. 99-113.
2) M.S.Shugart, On Presidents and Parliaments, "EECR", 1/1993, p.30-32.
3) E.Tanchev, Parlamentarism Rationalized, "EECR", 1/1993, p. 33-35.

Recommended Readings:
1) A.Lijphart (ed.), Parliamentary vs. Presidential Government, Oxford, 1992
2) M.S.Shugart/J.M.Carey, Presidents and Assemblies, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 1992

Topic Twelve: Institutional Choice and its Consequences II. Parliaments

Mandatory Readings:
1) Parliament by Design, "EECR", 2/1995, p. 56-90.

Recommended Readings:
1) A.Agh (ed.), The Emergence of East Central European Parliaments: The First Steps, Budapest, 1994

Topic Thirteen: Institutional Choice and its Consequences III. The Post-Communist Presidency

Mandatory Readings:
1) A Forum on Presidential Powers (featuring texts of S.Holmes, J.Elster, L.Lessig, E.Walker,), "EECR", 4/1993-1/1994

Recommended Readings:
1) J.J.Linz/A.Valenzuela (eds.), The Failure of Presidential Democracy, Oxford,1992

Topic Fourteen: Electoral Systems

Mandatory Readings:
Designing Electoral Regimes, "EECR", 2/1994, p. 39-80.

Recommended Readings:
1) G.B.Powell, Contemporary Democracies, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 1982
2) M.Gallagher et al (eds.), Representative Government in Western Europe, Cambridge 1985

CRC-Curriculum Resource Center
CEU Budapest, Hungary
Modified: May, 1996


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