Alec Stone Sweet
'Coordinate construction' refers to a condition in which both public policy and constitutional law are the products of sustained and intimate judicial-political interaction. 1 Such interaction is an increasingly important fact of government in Europe. Where this condition exists, the constitutional environment constitutes, in large part, the policy-making environment, and legislative processes structure the creative development of constitutional law. Where it pertains, parliamentarians behave judicially—debating and determining constitutionality—not unlike the way constitutional judges behave. Constitutional courts, for their part, behave legislatively—amending, vetoing, and even drafting legislation—not unlike the way legislators do.
This article examines the politics of coordinate construction in France and Germany. I begin with a general discussion of the role and impact of the French and German constitutional courts within policy-making processes. Case studies drawn from the legislative programmes of the first two Social-Liberal coalitions in Germany (1969-76) and the first Socialist government in France (1981-5) are then employed to ground a discussion of the coordinate construction of legislation and of constitutional law. These periods have attracted the special attention of students of policy-making as singular experiences of governments pledged to non-incremental reform agenda (Hoffmann, Malzacher, and Ross 1987