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Constitutions as Communication

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1065
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Constitutional Law
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Dec 2016
DatePublished (current) - 3 Nov 2017


A neglected function of constitutions is their role in facilitating communication. This is particularly important if one accepts the approach of constitutional pluralism, both at the international level and between plural constitutions at the national level. Communication may be between different types of constitutions or between legal and other forms of social systems such as the economy and politics. Theoretical support for this approach can be found in Habermas’s discursive theory of democracy, and also in recent developments in systems theory. The role of constitutional communication is here illustrated through four case studies drawn from economic management. The first two concern failures of communication through the use of balanced budget rules, and in the breakdown of institutional relations in the UK under the pressure of the financial crisis of 2008–2009. The other two identify successes; the German Federal Constitutional Court’s support for legislative deliberation in relation to eurozone rescue measures and the development of countervailing institutions linked by soft law in UK monetary and fiscal policy.

    Research areas

  • constitutions, economic management, deliberative democracy

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