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Securing Constitutional Government: The Perpetual Challenge


  • Suri Ratnapala


The paper discusses four conditions required for the maintenance of constitutional government, identifying them as the dominance of a particular conception of constitutional government, its official recognition and implementation by a written or traditional constitution, the existence of an institutional matrix that translates the constitution into the experience of the people and the achievement of economic conditions that sustain the institutional foundations of constitutionalism. The author attributes the decline in the classical understanding of constitutionalism to both public choice dynamics as well as to intellectual reconstructions of key concepts such as law, justice, and freedom that were designed to facilitate the welfare state without formally forsaking the rule of law ideal. The paper proceeds to focus on the social disruption of the late 20th century that weakened the institutional foundations of constitutionalism and the legal and economic causes of this development. It cautions against over-reliance on the self-correcting potential of social systems and concludes with thoughts on strategies appropriate to the perpetual struggle to maintain constitutional government.

Suggested Citation

  • Suri Ratnapala, 2002. "Securing Constitutional Government: The Perpetual Challenge," ICER Working Papers 38-2002, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:icr:wpicer:38-2002

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