Handbook on Global Constitutionalism
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Handbook on Global Constitutionalism

Edited by Anthony F. Lang and Antje Wiener

This Handbook introduces scholars and students to the history, philosophy, and evidence of global constitutionalism. Contributors provide their insights from law, politics, international relations, philosophy, and history, drawing on diverse frameworks and empirical data sets. Across them all, however, is a recognition that the international order cannot be understood without an understanding of constitutional theory. The Handbook will define this field of inquiry for the next generation by bringing together some of the leading contemporary scholars.
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Chapter 16: Balance of powers

Eoin Carolan


This chapter considers the challenges associated with a balance of powers approach to global constitutionalism. As its popularity in domestic constitutional contexts demonstrates, the idea of a balance of powers has potential as a source of descriptive coherence and normative legitimacy. The domestic experience also demonstrates, however, that it is not without its difficulties. References to balance naturally give rise to further far-reaching questions: who or what is being balanced? How is the balance assessed? Given the novelty and diversity of supranational structures, the flexibility of the concept may have some utility for global constitutionalists. However, experience with the European Union’s concept of institutional balance – particularly in its response to the economic crisis – suggests that the concept may carry with it the risk of an artificial and unduly formalistic approach to real-world institutional relationships.

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