Constitutions and Constitutional Trends since World War II: An Examination of Significant Aspects of Postwar Public Law with Particular Reference to the New Constitutions of Western Europe

By Arnold J. Zurcher | Go to book overview

10
Constitutional Documents of East-Central Europe *

Robert G. Neumann THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT LOS ANGELES

T HE new constitutions of the countries that now compose the so-called Soviet satellites, and of the ex-satellite, Yugoslavia, are set in a historical background which helps to explain their nature and their draftsmanship. Constitutional government, as it is known in Western Europe and in the United States, is unknown in Eastern Europe, with the exception of Czechoslovakia and of Finland. The latter country, however, is not included in our consideration. Stabs at Western-type constitutionalism have been made occasionally. At a surprisingly early date, in 1879, the so-called Tirnovo Constitution of Bulgaria included many liberal stipulations. Similarly, the Polish Constitution of 1921, which was written primarily in order to curb Josef Pilsudski, was a democratic document. But neither of them prevailed in theory or in practice; and the people of Communist Europe may therefore be expected to take constitutional documents in their stride even if their governments rule as they please and the civil "rights" enumerated thereunder remain a constant mockery of reality.

There is a basic difference between constitutions in a democracy and a dictatorship. In a democracy a constitution, whether written or unwritten, whether supported by judicial review or under a system of legislative supremacy, is designed to limit, to restrain.1 Constitu-

____________________
*
This essay, although written for this book, was published earlier in the Journal of Politics.
1
Carl J. Friedrich, Constitutional Government and Democracy ( Boston, 1941), pp. 121 ff.

-175-

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