Conference on Constitutions in Authoritarian Regimes: Session II

Constitutions, it is conventionally believed, are institutions that define and limit the boundaries of government.  Yet the formal constitution is an institution adopted by virtually every modern political regime, including many that would appear to have no interest in codifying any form of limitation on government power. We have very little understanding of the logics and dynamics of constitutional design and practice in countries that have “constitutions without constitutionalism”. This conference, held on October 21-22, 2011, explored the roles that constitutions play in authoritarian regimes, drawing on a wide range of cases to try to produce some general conclusions.

Session II

  • Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago, James Melton, IMT Institute, Lucca Italy, and Zachary Elkins, University of Texas, “The Contents of Authoritarian Constitutions” 
    • Commentator: Milan Svolik, University of Illinois 
  • Paper: Michael Albertus, University of Chicago and Victor Menaldo, University of Washington, “Dictators as Founding Fathers? The Role of Constitutions Under Autocracy”
    • Commentator: Steven Levitsky, Harvard University
Participating faculty: 
Tom Ginsburg