The Determinants of Emergency Constitutions
38 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2015 Last revised: 21 Jun 2016
Date Written: March 23, 2016
Nine out of ten countries currently have emergency provisions written into their constitutions. The nature of these provisions remains poorly understood. This paper therefore aims at providing first answers to two questions: 1) how much additional discretionary power do emergency constitutions allow and which political actors are given the additional power; and 2) which political and economic factors cause the inclusion of particular emergency provisions into constitutions. To answer the first question we construct an Indicator of Emergency Powers (INEP) which takes six central elements of emergency provisions explicitly into account. Structuring our discussion regarding reasons for the choice of emergency provisions, we discuss three theoretical motives, namely (1) a pragmatic, (2) a power-maximizing and (3) a more elaborate commitment motive. We test our theoretical conjectures and find that emergency constitutions in countries with stronger veto institutions, higher average income, and which recently experienced a coup allow more discretionary power while countries that are prone to natural disasters and countries far from the equator allow less power. Our findings are mostly in line with theoretical options 2) and 3).
Keywords: constitutional emergency provisions, state of emergency, état de siege, regime transformation
JEL Classification: K40, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation