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Limiting Government
An Introduction to Constitutionalism

András Sajó, Central European University, Budapest

Until the previous decade, constitutionalism in Eastern Europe was considered to be an outmoded concept of the nineteenth century. Changes in the region, however, have brought back the fundamental question of the need to restrict government power through social self-binding.

This book discusses the mechanisms of such restriction, including different forms of the separation of powers and constitutional review. It relates the theoretical and practical importance of the issue to the present world-wide discontent with majoritarian democracy and the growing disrepute of parliaments. Increasing executive efficiency is, however, a threat to fundamental rights, and the battlecry of efficiency is often only a means to new despotism and inefficiency. A careful re-evaluation of the concept of constitutionalism assists in the search for a useful balance between majoritarianism and rights, and in the avoidance of all forms of public tyranny.

Written in non-technical language and using the most important English, American, French, and German examples of constitutional history, the book also examines East European (in particular, Russian) and Latin American examples, in part to illustrate certain dead-ends in constitutional development. It is intended to be an introduction for all those concerned with liberty.

"It is hard to imagine anyone better qualified to write an authoritative book on constitutionalism. Sajó uniquely combines practical experience as a constitutional actor in Hungary and other East/ Central European countries with extraordinary depth and breadth as a comparative constitutionalist and legal theorist. In this book, Sajó brilliantly displays his multiple talents in providing a succinct and profound appraisal of the state of constitutionalism at the eve of the millennium. Drawing on history, philosophy and legal theory and on his vast knowledge of the British, French, German, American and East/ Central European experiences, he distills the essentials of constitutionalism in a clear, lively, incisive and trenchant analysis. Sajó's book is undisputedly a major contribution to the field which will be read by experts as well as by all those who are seriously interested in the fate and prospects of constitutional democracy. "
- Michel Rosenfeld, Cardozo School of Law

Contents

Introduction. Chapter 1: The constitution as fear and acceptance Chapter 2: The taming of democracy Chapter 3: Dangerous liaisons: checks and balances and the separation of powers Chapter 4: Parliamentarism and the legislative branch Chapter 5: The executive power Chapter 6: The rule-of-law state and its executors Chapter 7: Constitutional adjudication Chapter 8: Fundamental rights

1999
288 pages
ISBN 978-963-9116-25-2 cloth $49.95 / €42.95 / £33.00 out of print
ISBN 978-963-9116-24-5 paperback $25.95 / €23.95 / £19.99

 

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