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Making a 21st Century Constitution

Playing Fair in Modern Democracies

Frank Vibert

Democratic constitutions are increasingly unfit for purpose with governments facing increased pressures from populists and distrust from citizens. The only way to truly solve these problems is through reform. Within this important book, Frank Vibert sets out the key challenges to reform, the ways in which constitutions should be revitalised and provides the standards against which reform should be measured.
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Chapter 9: The emotive: togetherness and fairness

Frank Vibert


This chapter discusses the importance of fairness in satisfying the emotive aim of constitutions to achieve togetherness and a willingness to cooperate. It distinguishes between three different concepts of fairness – distribution, equality and fair play. It assesses each concept against different models for achieving togetherness including ‘esteem’. It identifies the importance of reciprocity and relationship values for societies where there exist uncertainties in relationships and an absence of a common agreement on fair shares. It discusses the limits to achieving fair play in relationships based on tacit understandings in society. It identifies where constitutions need to establish explicit rules that provide a common understanding of where authority is exercised, ‘path rules’ for moving from one position to a preferred position, and normative guidance in the form of rights or additional institutions that address blind spots in democratic processes.

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