Romanian Constitutionalism: Form Without Content?
10 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2012
Date Written: September 2012
Romanian constitutional democracy is once again experiencing a period of great turmoil. In the early 2000s, Romanian democracy seemed to get closer to the idea of a Rechtsstaat and the rule of law, and what in general could be called a form of ‘legal constitutionalism’ or ‘new constitutionalism’, after a troublesome phase of a limited role of the constitution in Romanian democracy, if not in the form of ‘constitutional nationalism’. However, by 2012 it has become clear that the Romanian constitution mostly takes the form of a façade constitution, largely (ab-)used by political forces for distinct power games. In this, the old Romanian theory on ‘forms without content’ (formele fără fond) that was used at the end of the 19th century to criticize superficial experiences with modernization in the form of Westernization seems to be once again a realistic description of Romanian – in this case constitutional – reality. The theory indicates a large gap between ‘legal Romania’ and ‘real Romania’, and thus a distance between imported or transplanted constitutional/legal institutions and wider society and its forms of interaction. Not only has a weak culture of constitutionalism emerged, but what seems worse is that a constitutional language is distant from societal interaction, and mostly abused for narrow political purposes. Constitutional values seem to fail to inform wider society in terms of a civic and political orientation to constitutional values and public debate on the foundations of Romanian democracy.
Keywords: Constitution, Constitutional Court, Constitutional crisis, Democracy, EU, Referendum, Romania
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