The Determinants of Emergency Constitutions

Prof. Dr. Stefan Voigt, Director Institute of Law & Economics, University of Hamburg

Prof. Dr. Christian Bjørnskov, Aarhus University

Today, some 90 per cent of all constituconstitutional-destructiontions worldwide contain explicit provisions for how to deal with states of emergency. And they are used quite frequently. Between 1985 and 2014, at least 137 countries declared a state of emergency at least once. Under a state of emergency, some individual rights and liberties are usually suspended and the separation of powers is curtailed in favour of the executive or even a single person like the head of state or government and, by implication, to the detriment of parliament and the courts. Given that states of emergency can be crucial moments for the development of entire countries and taking into consideration how frequently they are used, it is amazing how little we know about constitutional emergency provisions.

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De toekomst van de Senaat: gewikt en gewogen

See English version below

Marie DeCock, Cédric Labens, Laura Meuleman en Elien Verniers (masterstudenten Grondige Studie Grondwettelijk Recht, UGent), Pieter Cannoot (assistent, UGent) en Juan Benjumea Moreno (assistent, UGent)

De zesde staatshervorming Senaatzorgde voor de creatie van de Vlinder-Senaat, met een nieuwe samenstelling en beperktere bevoegdheden. Bovenal dient de Senaat zijn functie als deelstatenkamer waar te maken. Als je de meest essentiële bepalingen over de Senaat erop naleest – artikelen 56, 67, 68 van de Grondwet – is deze wetgevende kamer juridisch gezien adequaat ontworpen. Helaas, ook deze hervorming was het resultaat van een typisch Belgisch compromis. Een gebrek aan politieke eensgezindheid bij het Vlinderakkoord verhinderde dan ook de volkomen transformatie van de Senaat tot een volwaardige deelstatenkamer. Het onbevredigende resultaat van deze ‘willen-maar-niet-kunnen’-hervorming zette politici aan om reeds één jaar na de geboorte van de Vlinder-Senaat zelf innovatieve alternatieven voor te stellen. Maar hoe zit het daar mee? Blijft de Senaat zoals hij is of wil men het weer over een andere boeg gooien? Wil men de Senaat in zijn oude glorie herstellen? Of gaat men de Senaat van de wal in de sloot helpen? Hoog tijd om de meest in het oog springende ideeën onder de loep te nemen. Naast het politieke debat en de vraag of deze voorstellen een oplossing kunnen zijn, gaan we ook in op het grondwettelijke kader.

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The future of the Belgian Senate

Marie DeCock, Cédric Labens, Laura Meuleman and Elien Verniers (master students Advanced Study Constitutional Law, Ghent University), Pieter Cannoot (assistant, Ghent University) and Juan Benjumea Moreno (Ghent University)

The Sixth State Reform led to Senaat ENGthe creation of a new Belgian Senate, the so-called Butterfly Senate, characterised by a new composition and more limited powers. Above all, the Senate needs to function as a chamber of the federated states: a place where the Belgian communities and regions can meet. A critical reading of the most essential provisions on the Senate – articles 56, 67, 68 of the Belgian Constitution –  leads to the understanding that the chamber is adequately designed from a legal point of view. Unfortunately, this reform was the result of a typical Belgian compromise. A lack of political consensus prevented the Senate to be completely transformed into a fully-fledged chamber of the federated states. The unsatisfactory result of this reform caused politicians to propose innovative alternatives for the Senate, already one year after its resurrection. What will happen now? Will the Senate remain as it is or are we facing the winds of change? Will the Senate be restored in its former glory, or should it be abolished after all? In addition to the political debate and whether these proposals could be a solution, we will also examine their constitutional framework.

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Monthly Overview – November 2015

BelConLawBlog publishes a selected reading list of (I) new scholarship on Belgian constitutional law in journals and books, (II) decisions of the Belgian Constitutional Court in which a violation of the Constitution has been found, (III) upcoming conferences, and (IV) calls for papers. In order to submit relevant developments for our monthly overview, please contact us.

This overview was composed by Ruth Delbaere (Research Assistant, UGent).

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‘The Constitution of Belgium’ by Patricia Popelier and Koen Lemmens – Exclusive discount via BelConLawBlog

Hart Publishing is delighted to announce the publication of ‘The Constitution of Belgium: A Contextual Analysis’. It offers an exclusive 20% discount on the book for subscribers and readers of the BelConLawBlog.

Patricia Popelier (Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Antwerp) and Koen Lemmens (Associate Professor of Human Rights at the Catholic University of Louvain)

In this book, the institutional structure and the principles governing the Belgian constitutional system are explained in the light of its historical, demographic and political context. Linguistic bipolarity and its historical evolution explain the establishment of the Belgian State structure as a dual federalism, with exclusive powers, instruments for consensus making and obstruction, and elements of con-federal decision-making. It also explains the evolution in the concept of principles of democracy and the rule of law. Besides describing the devolutionary process, the book also incorporates two other elements that have shaped the Belgian constitutional landscape: fundamental rights and Europeanisation.

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