Previous: The structure of government

Every country or jurisdiction can be said to have a constitution. In simply terms, a constitution is the body of principles which governs the state: how it is structured, how power is distributed etc. However, there is some debate over what a constitution is.

The meaning of ‘constitution’

In a narrow sense, a constitution can be a written document with high legal sanctity which contains the framework of government and state principles. The US constitution could be likened to such a definition. However, the UK does not fit this definition, it does not have a bill of rights. Though it still has a constitution. In a much broader sense, we can say that a constitution is:

A set of rules and principles, regarded as authoritative, which specifies the location of public power and regulates how that power is to be exercised.

Therefore constitutions attempt to identify who may exercise public power, enable that exercise and limit it.

Types of constitutions

Written constitutions

A written constitution, such as a bill of rights, has all of a state’s constitutional principles contained in the text itself. It is a species of higher law and is difficult to amend or repeal, buy alprazolam eu though it is easier to find violations when a constitution is written.

Unwritten constitutions

Unwritten constitutions lack any authoritative or definitive text, therefore are evolutionary, flexible and easy for a legislature to change, such as Parliament in the UK...

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