International Government

Written vs unwritten constitution?

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2011-10-03 01:14:01
2011-10-03 01:14:01

An unwritten constitution does not literally mean that the constitution is unwritten, it simply refers to a constitution which is located among many different documents, unlike the written constitution which may be found as one document, even if with different volumes to that document.

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It depends on what you mean by "type of constitution".Written vs. UnwrittenAt the broadest level, there are written constitutions and unwritten constitutions. A written constitution is a constitution like the US Constitution that has set terms and provisions in one coherent document. An unwritten constitution is a constitution like the UK Constitution that is formed from a number of different precedential decisions, traditional legal behaviors, treaties, and referrenda, but no clearly articulated sets of provisions. There are also intermediate forms, such as the Israeli Constitution, which, while it is not a single coherent document like the US Constitution, it is made up of around 30 different entrenched laws. An entrenched law takes a much larger percentage of the parliament both to enact and remove than a typical law and will have greater weight in a legal case than a typical law. This makes the entrenched "Basic Laws" of Israel, a hybrid between written and unwritten constitutions. There are many other systems along the US-UK spectrum.Regime TypeConstitutions also differ by what kind of regime they purport to establish or solidify. This can range from Representative Republics, Parliamentary Democracies, Constitutional Monarchies, Leninist Party States (like "Communist States"), Judicial Authoritarianisms, Caudillo-Governments, etc.Extant Only vs. Extant and ExtinctUsing the term "in the world" is unclear as to whether it simply refers to any constitution for which there is a physical copy or that the constitution has to be in current use. We have numerous examples of consitutions that no longer function, such as the constitutions of France's first four republics as well as the documents undergirding countless other French states (Napoleonic France, Imperial France, Monarchist France). One joke that the Non-French like to make about France is that when two Frenchmen have a disagreement that they write another constitution. However none of these constitutions, save the Constitution of the Fifth French Republic, are in use.


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