Explaining the Constitutionalisation of Social Rights: Portuguese Hypotheses and a Crossnational Test

59 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2011

See all articles by Pedro C. Magalhães

Pedro C. Magalhães

Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon

Date Written: December 30, 2010

Abstract

The most enduring originality of the Portuguese Constitution promulgated in 1976 was the extent to which it recognized and entrenched social welfare rights. The constitutionalisation of these rights has been mostly discussed in terms of its consequences, both in normative and (less often) empirical terms. In this paper, we shift attention to the causes of such constitutionalisation. We argue that the extreme lengths to which constitution-makers went in entrenching social rights in Portugal results from a combination of factors: the nature of the Portuguese regime change in 1974-76 and its consequences in the balance of powers between political and societal actors; the legal traditions and values prevalent in Portuguese society; the legacy of Social Catholicism; and the prevalent Zeitgeist. In the first part of the paper, we analyze the Portuguese case from these different points of view. In the second part of the paper, we test the resulting hypotheses, resorting to a data set on the constitutionalisation of social rights in the current constitutions of the world.

Keywords: social rights, constitutionalism, institutional design

Suggested Citation

Magalhães, Pedro C., Explaining the Constitutionalisation of Social Rights: Portuguese Hypotheses and a Crossnational Test (December 30, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1894628 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1894628

Pedro C. Magalhães (Contact Author)

Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon ( email )

Av. Prof. Anibal de Bettencourt, 9
Lisbon, 1600-189
Portugal

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