Law and constituent power: the ideological pool and achievements in constitutional jurisprudence

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Author: Igor Kravets

Keywords: constituent act; constitution; constitutional amendments; constitutionalism; extra-legal; law; nation; people; sovereignty; supra-constitutional; сonstituent power

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2021-6-155-177


The article is a detailed review of the book, which examines the problem of the relationship between law and constituent power in the historical and political and legal context of the constitutional development of the institution of constitution-making in European countries and some Latin American states during the 18th – early 21st centuries. The huge scientific and intellectual pool that has formed in the space of constitutional thought about constituent power is an inexhaustible source for researchers of the intellectual tradition and content, procedures and boundaries, political opportunities, and legal principles of the institution of constitutional lawmaking. The concept of constituent power has a powerful generative potential that creates modern constitutions and constitutional legal order. Moreover, modern constitutional law owes its existence to constituent power; it maintains a legal connection with this authority and creates rules and principles for the operation of this authority. The doctrine of legal constitutionalism can create intellectual bridges for the constitutionalization of constituent power. Law and constituent power are in a complex and competing relationship. New methodological approaches to the study of constituent power are based on the idea that this form of public power is bound by specific legal and constitutional principles that have a constitutional and extra-legal nature and status. The desire to see in constituent power legal principles that require constitutional and extra-constitutional (supra-constitutional) understanding is an important guarantee of maintaining the constitutional worldview in creating a new constitution and adopting constitutional amendments. There is a threat to the constitutional worldview in the two extremes in the dilemma about the relationship between the constitution and constitutive power: a permanent constitution and a permanent constituent power. The article analyzes important issues of the relationship between the constituent power and law from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 21st century. The forms of these relations followed the path of gradual constitutionalization of the very idea and principles of the “work” of the constituent power, considering the experience of European states (France, Spain) and Latin American countries (Venezuela, Colombia). Constituent power, by virtue of its relationship to the material content of the constitution, can thus serve the function of protecting certain types of constitutional norms. At the same time, such restrictions are important but they do not guarantee it from a constitutional revolution or collapse because of a coup d’état or “color revolutions”.

About the author: Igor Kravets – Doctor of Sciences (in Law), Head of the Chair of Theory and History of State and Law and Constitutional Law of the Institute of Philosophy and Law, Novosibirsk State University, Professor, Novosibirsk, Russia.

Citation: Kravets I. (2021) Pravo i konstituiruyushchaya vlast’: ideynyy pul i dostizheniya v konstitutsionnoy yurisprudentsii: Retsenziya na knigu: Colón-Ríos J. Constituent Power and the Law. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2020 [Law and constituent power: the ideological pool and achievements in constitutional jurisprudence: Book review: Colón-Ríos J. Constituent Power and the Law. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2020]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 155–177. (In Russian).


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About the author: Igor Kravets – Professor, Doctor of Science in Law, Head of the Chair of Theory and History of State and Law and Constitutional Law of the Institute of Philosophy and Law of the Novosibirsk State University, Novosibirsk, Russia.