Crafting Constitutional Democracies: The Politics of Institutional Design

Overview

By examining the institutions of government through the lens of constitution-making, Crafting Constitutional Democracies provides a broad and insightful introduction to comparative politics. Drawn from a series of lectures given in Jakarta, Indonesia, on the drafting of the U.S. constitution, the book illustrates the problems faced by generations of founders, through numerous historic and contemporary examples. Both Indonesia in 1999 and the United States in 1789 faced the same basic issue: how to construct a ...

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Overview

By examining the institutions of government through the lens of constitution-making, Crafting Constitutional Democracies provides a broad and insightful introduction to comparative politics. Drawn from a series of lectures given in Jakarta, Indonesia, on the drafting of the U.S. constitution, the book illustrates the problems faced by generations of founders, through numerous historic and contemporary examples. Both Indonesia in 1999 and the United States in 1789 faced the same basic issue: how to construct a central government for a large and diverse nation that allowed the majority of the people to govern themselves without intruding on the rights of minorities. What kinds of institutions make for "good government"? What factors need to be considered in designing a government? Author Edward Schneier explores these questions through a rich variety of examples from both recent and historic transitions to democracy. Drawing frequently upon the arguments of the American Federalist Papers and more contemporary theories of democratization, Crafting Constitutional Democracies lucidly explores the key questions of how and why democracies succeed and fail. A concluding chapter on constitutional change and decline raises provocative and important questions about the lessons that citizens of the world's older democracies might take from the struggles of the new.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Ned Lebow
Well designed constitutions do not produce good governments, but there are no good governments without them. Using extensive and careful comparative research, Ned Schneier identifies the qualities of good constitutions and analyzes their relevance to the survival and consolidation of democracy. Scholars and practitioners alike have much to learn from this book.
John W. Harbeson
Crafting Constitutional Democracies is the first in-depth comparative study of world and American constitutional development since Samuel Finer's a decade ago, and it is distinctive in its inclusion of American state constitutions. In setting the study of constitutions in historical, cultural and socioeconomic contexts, this book makes a rich, invaluable addition to the literature of comparative politics.
Diana Gordon
Ned Schneier's book works on many levels: as a lucid and nuanced introduction to constitutional studies, as a treasury of wise observations for the reader steeped in the literature, and—most important—as a rich guide for designers of new democratic constitutions.
David M. Olson
This smoothly-written review of the impact of constitutional structures upon the practice of democratic politics combines a deep knowledge of the American experience with an acute awareness of countries around the world. How democratic constitutions and democratic political systems develop and persist in a rapidly changing world is a pervasive theme throughout the book, both stimulated and informed by the author's personal experience in transitional political systems.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742530737
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Schneier is professor emeritus of political science at The City College of The City University of New York.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface: On the Establishment and Survival of Constitutional Democracies Chapter 2 Constitutions, Democracy, and Good Government Chapter 3 The Origins of Constitutions Chapter 4 Comparing Constitutions Chapter 5 The Scope of Constitutional Regimes Chapter 6 Conflict and Consensus: The Civic Culture of Democracies Chapter 7 Matching Cultures and Regimes: Elites, Pluralism, and Electoral Systems Chapter 8 Bureaucracy and Democracy Chapter 9 Chief Executives Chapter 10 Legislatures Chapter 11 Federalism and Decentralization Chapter 12 Courts and the Legal System Chapter 13 Constitutional Change Chapter 14 Appendix Chapter 15 Selected Bibliography Chapter 16 Index Chapter 17 About the Author

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