What is a Constitution? Principles and Concepts
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What Is a Constitution?
The vast majority of contemporary constitutions describe the basic principles of the state, the structures and processes of government and the fundamental rights of citizens in a higher law that cannot be unilaterally changed by an ordinary legislative act. This higher law is usually referred to as a constitution.
The content and nature of a particular constitution, as well as how it relates to the rest of the legal and political order, varies considerably between countries, and there is no universal and uncontested definition of a constitution. Nevertheless, any broadly accepted working definition of a constitution would likely include the following characteristics:
A constitution is a set of fundamental legal-political rules that:
- are binding on everyone in the state, including ordinary lawmaking institutions;
- concern the structure and operation of the institutions of government, political principles and the rights of citizens;
- are based on widepread public legitimacy;
- are harder to change than ordinary laws (e.g. a two-thirds majority vote or or a referendum is needed);
- as a minimum, meet the internationally recognized