In the July newsletter we share with our readers four original Voices from the Field and a number of updates on constitutional reform processes in different parts of the world.
The unexpected veto of the Polish president has temporarily stemmed reforms that could have significantly undercut judicial independence in the country. While the veto may partly demonstrate the value of formal checks and balances, even when the same political group controls all veto players, in the present case it may have merely delayed the train of the ‘revolution-by-law’ that could soon sweep presidents of ordinary courts, CSOs and the private media.
In France, President Macron proposed constitutional changes that would profoundly affect the judiciary and parliament. The principal institutional barrier will be the Senate, which has not yet been swept by the En Marche electoral tsunami and whose consent to the proposed amendments is necessary. It is for this reason that the September 2017 Senate elections will be particularly important for the success of the reforms.
A recent amendment to the Basic Law of Germany empowers the state to deprive anti-democratic political parties of federal funding. At first glance, this might appear to present a useful way of combating anti-democratic parties in the country, which might be adopted across Europe and beyond. However, the legitimacy and effectiveness of such measures is open to significant question, and may distract us not only from alternative measures that have greater potential, but also from the need to focus on the root causes for the rise in support for anti-democratic populist parties.
While the proposed reforms to the Malian Constitution respond to the Algiers Peace Agreement, the process was not inclusive and the proposals include ‘opportunistic’ reforms that have triggered strong opposition. Reengagement to secure broader consensus over the reforms is necessary. The order of the Constitutional Court to correct certain provisions in the reform proposals offers a great opportunity in this regard.
The remaining updates cover a range of issues in countries ranging from Nepal to Uganda and from Kazakhstan to Chile, providing an excellent overview of recent constitutional developments around the globe.