The March newsletter includes four Voices from the Field and a number of updates on constitutional reform processes around the world.
Kazakhstan adopted a series of constitutional amendments that, contrary to previous constitutional changes aimed at expanding presidential powers, redistribute these powers between different branches of the government. Lack of political pluralism in the country makes this reform remain only on paper, at least for now. Yet, in the long run, it may contribute to an important political transition and more checks and balances once the current president, Nazarbayev, leaves the office. Adoption of the new Law on Local and Regional Elections in Tunisia breaks with centralization and moves towards decentralization allowing the establishment of grassroots democracy and equitable development between the country’s different regions what reflects postulates of the Tunisian upraising. Gambia has been undergoing constitutional reform since the new president, Adama Barrow, entered into power. Legislative changes comprised electoral issues, change of retirement age and removal of upper age limit for holding office as President, introduction of presidential age limits and amendment of media laws to ensure protection of the freedom of speech. Since adoption of Somalia’s Provisional Constitution in 2012, the country authorities were not able to finalize constitution-making process scheduled to conclude in August 2016. A number of options were presented but no consensus was reached between the Federal Government, Parliament and the leaders of the Federal Member States.
The remaining updates cover a wide array of issues in countries ranging from Benin to Croatia and from Japan to Colombia which, taken together, give an excellent overview of recent trends in constitutional reform around the world.