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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 17: Conclusions: upgrading constitutions

Frank Vibert


This final chapter brings together the components needed to upgrade constitutions so that they will provide the support that democracies need in the modern world. First, they need to extend their base so as to ensure common knowledge about all actors who wield authority in today’s world. Secondly, they need to provide more stringent path rules in order to bring together the content-lite reasoning of a democratic politics with the content-based reasoning of the law and expert bodies. Thirdly, they need to provide additional institutions to correct for the blind spots of democratic politics, notably a body concerned with intergenerational equity and a body concerned with constitutional oversight. Fourthly, they need to take a more parsimonious approach to assertions of rights and include mainly only procedural rights. Finally, they need to reaffirm the importance of consent through the use of referendums for policy and constitutional questions.

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