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Daniel Ziblatt on Constitution - Dictionary of Arguments

Levitsky I 115
Constitution/Democracy/Levitsky/Ziblatt: Are constitutional security measures sufficient alone to protect democracy? We think: no. Even well thought-out constitutions sometimes fail. The Weimar Republic Constitution of 1919 was written by some of the country's best legal scholars. In the opinion of many, the traditional and highly respected constitutional state enshrined in it was sufficient to prevent abuse of power. But both the constitution and the constitutional state collapsed rapidly after Hitler's seizure of power in 1933(1).
Levitsky I 116
Latin America: Many of the republics that became independent followed the United States' model and adopted the presidential system, the bicameral parliament and the Supreme Court, and in some cases the electoral college and the federal structure of the country. Some adopted a constitution that was almost a copy of the U.S.(2). Nevertheless, almost all of the young republics slipped into civil wars and dictatorships.
Levitsky/Ziblatt: First of all, constitutions are always incomplete. Like any set of rules, they contain numerous gaps and ambiguities.
Levitsky I 118
All successful democracies are based on informal rules that are not laid down in the constitution, but are widely known and respected(3). In the case of American democracy, this is a decisive factor.


1. Kenneth F. Ledford, »German Lawyers and the State in the Weimar Republic«, in: Law and History Review 13, Nr. 2 (1995), p. 317–349.
2. George Athan Billias, American Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, 1776–1989, New York 2009, S. 124–125; Zackary Elkins/Tom Ginsburg/James Melton, The Endurance of National Constitutions, New York 2009, p. 26.
3. Siehe Gretchen Helmke/Steven Levitsky (Hg.), Informal Institutions and Democracy. Lessons from Latin America, Baltimore 2006.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Ziblatt, Daniel


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