Majority Rules in Constitutional Referendums

23 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017

See all articles by Stephan Michel

Stephan Michel

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law and Economics

Ignacio Cofone

McGill University Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 2017

Abstract

The paper addresses the divergence in majority rules at the moment of creating or reforming constitutions. While constitutions require, in most cases, qualified majorities in order to be approved at the constitutional assembly, they normally require only simple majorities to be ratified at the referendum. We analyze the set of conditions under which each majority rule is preferable for constitutional referendums. We argue that the simple majority requirement for referendums in constitution‐making, which is nearly universally used, lacks a clear theoretical justification. Qualified majority rules increase legitimacy and provide additional checks on the drafters. We further highlight when simple majority rules have advantages: when decision‐making costs in the referendum are high. Thereafter, we present an evaluation mechanism to identify the cases in which each majority rule should be used to increase stability and legitimacy. We then apply this evaluation mechanism to the constitution‐making processes in Poland, Bolivia and Egypt, which are three examples of diverging majority rules.

Suggested Citation

Michel, Stephan and Cofone, Ignacio, Majority Rules in Constitutional Referendums (August 2017). Kyklos, Vol. 70, Issue 3, pp. 402-424, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2998392 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/kykl.12143

Stephan Michel (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg - Institute of Law and Economics ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

Ignacio Cofone

McGill University Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.ignaciocofone.com

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
0
Abstract Views
201
PlumX Metrics