Presidential Term Limits in Latin America and the Limits of Transnational Constitutional Dialogue

12 Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Forthcoming

FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 862

17 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2017

See all articles by David Landau

David Landau

Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: October 15, 2017

Abstract

This piece was written for a symposium on “Global Constitutionalism,” convened at the Clough Center for Democracy at Boston College Law School in December 2016. Across a number of countries including Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, incumbent presidents in Latin America have recently sought to amend their constitutions to eliminate or weaken presidential term limits. In some cases, these efforts to extend terms have been part of broader projects to consolidate power, weaken other state institutions, and tilt the electoral playing field in favor of incumbents. From a legal perspective, these cases are interesting because they highlight the limits of tools limiting constitutional change, such as eternity clauses and the unconstitutional constitutional amendment doctrine, to constrain potentially anti-democratic or anti-liberal forms of constitutional change. Although constitutional texts in most of these cases gave courts ample ammunition to reject attempts to eliminate term limits or at least to force those changes down more demanding paths, courts did not stand in the way of most of these efforts and in some cases even used the doctrines to eliminate rather than protect term limits. The case studies highlight the extent to which the “superficial” spread of doctrines controlling constitutional change may fail to block, and indeed may promote, forms of constitutional change that threaten liberal democratic constitutionalism. It also suggests possibilities for deepening the effectiveness of transnational dialogue on these issues.

Keywords: Executive Power, Term limits, Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment Doctrine, Constitutional Change, Democratic Erosion

JEL Classification: K10, K41

Suggested Citation

Landau, David, Presidential Term Limits in Latin America and the Limits of Transnational Constitutional Dialogue (October 15, 2017). 12 Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Forthcoming; FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 862. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3053521

David Landau (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
117
Abstract Views
434
rank
249,504
PlumX Metrics