Material limits of constitutional change in Post-Soviet states

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Author: Dmitry Shustrov

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-2-86-103

Keywords: constitution; limits of change; жёсткие и гибкие конституции; материальные пределы; неизменяемые конституционные положения; неизменяемые конституционные принципы; постсоветские государства; стабильность и динамизм; эксплицитные и имплицитные материальные пределы


A Constitution has the quality of stability, which requires the establishment of limits for constitutional changes. Such limits are (1) formal, connected with the complicated procedure of constitutional change and time periods when the change is impossible, and (2) material, connected with the constitutional provisions and/or principles that are impossible to change within the framework of this constitution. This article is devoted to a comparative legal study of the material limits on constitutional changes in fifteen post-Soviet states, in which the limits of constitutional change were initially assigned a special role in ensuring the transition of these countries from non-democracy to democracy. The limits were to be a guarantee of avoiding past mistakes, not to allow past fears to arise again and become a reality, and to protect the constitutional order from becoming unconstitutional through a constitutional procedure. Unfortunately, not everything was realized in these post-Soviet states, whose constitutions for a quarter of a century underwent changes (sometimes very large ones), and the practice corrected the theory. In many post-Soviet countries, the initial constitutional fears of non-democracy and concentration of power have actually been replaced by their opposite: unconstitutional fears of political elites losing their power. The material limits on constitutional changes are aimed to make the constitution rigid, concentrated on the content of the changes, and suggested that separate constitutional provisions and/or constitutional principles can’t be the subject of constitutional change or can be changed in a very complicated order (in fact, meaning their unchangeability). This article analyzes the establishment of explicit and implicit material limits on constitutional change in post-Soviet states, and distinguishes unchangeable constitutional provisions from unchangeable constitutional principles.

About the author: Dmitry Shustrov – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Shustrov D. (2018) Material’nye predely izmeneniya konstitutsiy postsovetskikh gosudarstv [Material limits of constitutional change in Post-Soviet states]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.27, no.2, pp.86–103. (In Russian).


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