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Institutional Interests in Constitutional Politics: Why the Initiator Matters for the Success or Failure of Constitutional Amendments

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Conflict
Constitutions
Executives
Qualitative
Judicialisation
Michael Hein
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Michael Hein
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Anna Fruhstorfer
Universität Potsdam

Abstract

Institutional interests are a main determinant of day-to-day politics. But do they likewise matter in the much more consensus-oriented field of constitutional politics? To answer this question, this article examines the success and failure of constitutional amendment drafts. We reassess a hypothesis proposed by Donald S. Lutz more than 20 years ago, according to which the initiator of an amendment is a significant determinant of its success, i. e. the passing or non-passing of the respective amendment initiative. The study is based on a unique dataset on successful and failed constitutional amendments, covering 18 post-socialist countries in Central and Eastern Europe (1990–2014). We demonstrate that the chances of success for a given constitutional amendment are clearly driven by institutional interests: cabinet and presidential proposals have significantly higher chances of success than parliamentary and public initiatives. In addition, success or failure also depend upon the level of democracy and the rigidity of the amendment process.