Political Parties and Public Participation in Constitution Making: Legitimation, Distraction, or Real Influence?

Comparative Politics 53 (3). doi: 10.5129/001041521X15966512980176

21 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2020 Last revised: 24 Sep 2020

See all articles by Alexander Hudson

Alexander Hudson

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Date Written: April 1, 2021

Abstract

Over the past three decades, participatory methods of constitution making have gained increasing acceptance, and are now an indispensable part of any constitution-making process. Despite this, we know little about how much public participation actually affects the constitution. This article investigates the impact of participation in two groundbreaking cases: Brazil (1988), South Africa (1996). This analysis demonstrates that public participation has relatively small effects on the text, but that it varies in systematic ways. The theory advanced here posits that party strength (especially in terms of discipline and programmatic commitments) is the key determinant of the effectiveness of public participation. Strong parties may be more effective in many ways, but they are less likely to act on input from the public in constitution-making processes.

Keywords: Constitution-making, public participation, constituent power, Brazil, South Africa, democratic innovations

Suggested Citation

Hudson, Alexander, Political Parties and Public Participation in Constitution Making: Legitimation, Distraction, or Real Influence? (April 1, 2021). Comparative Politics 53 (3). doi: 10.5129/001041521X15966512980176, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3526880

Alexander Hudson (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity ( email )

Hermann-Foege-Weg 11
Goettingen, 37073
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://aehudson.com

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