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Lecture 13

POLS 1150 Lecture 13: Constitutions (February 8)

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Political Science
POLS 1150
Mark Yanisziewski

Lecture 13: Constitutions – February 8 Reading: People, Politics, and Government, pp. 86-91 and 245-265 Constitutions cont’d (2) Types of Constitutions: Written • Constitution is focused and concentrated (often) into a document o A document that clearly outlines the constitution in a single source • e.g. U.S, Canada (BNA Act – 1867 & Constitution Act – 1982) Unwritten • No single document/series of elements that make up the constitution o A number of documents & conventions and customs • e.g. Britain (Magna Carta – 1215 & Bill of Rights – 1689), New Zealand In General, There are (4) Parts to a Constitution: 1. Preamble 2. Organizational Section 3. Delineates the Rights of Groups or Individuals 4. Mechanisms to Amend the Constitution Preamble • Right at the beginning of the document • Provides general overview of what the creators of the constitution wish to accomplish • The broad principles • Use of dramatic language Organizational Section • Describes how the governing structure will be set up o e.g. Will there be provinces, type of legislature created – one or more, how often are elections held • Determines type of state being created – unitary, confederal, federal Types of Systems: Unitary, Confederal, Federal U NITARY SYSTEMS • The most common political structure • 9/10 countries have this system o e.g. France, Sweden, China, all Arab States • All political decision making is concentrated at one level of government o i.e. One national government is responsible for policy making in all aspects/areas • Unitary states typically have other levels of government however, the regional governments exist at the pleasure of the national o i.e. The national government can take away power if they choose to • Power at top (national government) which can then choose to delegate it to local governments • e.g. Britain 1986 – Margaret Thatcher Conservative PM at the time o Thatcher’s government got into a fight with the municipal government of London (that is more socialist) o The PM got fed up and passed a bill that abolished the power of the government in London o The mayor of London could not do anything about it under the constitution o In Canada, could not do this as protected by the constitution Advantages of a Unitary System/Why Concentrate Power? • Efficiency o Policy is decided one time and does not have to go through multiple levels, also red
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