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Changing Federal Constitutions Number 8


Changing Federal Constitutions Number 8

Constitutional change can occur through constitutional amendments or through constitutional evolution. Constitutional amendments take place in three phases: initiation, negotiation and ratification. Initiators – usually governments or political leaders – most often initiate reform, but pressure to do so may come from the regions or from civil society.

When federal or federalizing countries negotiate constitutional change, representatives from the central government and the regions are most often involved, but individual actors – experts, members of parliament, civil servants and civil society representatives can come from any order of government. Arenas of negotiation can be committees,commissions, conferences or conventions.

Different types of bargaining and arguing can also influence the negotiations positively or negatively. Whether negotiations happen in public or private can influence the outcome, as to when certain actors join the negotiations process (someone left out until the end can feel that the “deck was stacked against them.”)

Many processes of constitutional amendment go well until the ratification phase. There, an amendment could fail by losing a ballot box referendum or by a veto cast against it by a member of a regional legislature. Yet even a failed constitutional amendment can provide “leftovers” that could be used in constitutional evolution by the passing
of ordinary laws, setting of policies and the conclusion of agreements among different orders to government.