Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
Constituents Before Assembly

Constituents Before Assembly
Participation, Deliberation, and Representation in the Crafting of New Constitutions

$26.00 ( ) USD

Part of Comparative Constitutional Law and Policy

  • Date Published: June 2017
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316731659

$ 26.00 USD ( )
Adobe eBook Reader

You will be taken to for this purchase
Buy eBook Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, Hardback

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Under what circumstances do new constitutions improve a nation's level of democracy? Between 1974 and 2014, democracy increased in seventy-seven countries following the adoption of a new constitution, but it decreased or stayed the same in forty-seven others. This book demonstrates that increased participation in the forming of constitutions positively impacts levels of democracy. It is discovered that the degree of citizen participation at the 'convening stage' of constitution-making has a strong effect on levels of democracy. This finding defies the common theory that levels of democracy result from the content of constitutions, and instead lends support to 'deliberative' theories of democracy. Patterns of constitutions are then compared, differentiating imposed and popular constitution-making processes, using case studies from Chile, Nigeria, Gambia, and Venezuela to illustrate the dynamics specific to imposed constitution-making, and case studies from Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, and Tunisia to illustrate the specific dynamics of popular constitution-making.

    • Shows for the first time that the level of participation in building democracy through new constitutions matters more than the content of the constitution itself
    • Provides empirical evidence for normative theories of democracy
    • Empirically develops a new dataset of 190 countries from 1974 to 2014
    • Utilizes primary and secondary source material from comparative case studies from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Normative theories of constitution making have traditionally proposed that only constitutions adopted with a high degree of citizen involvement can work as the foundational moment of a vigorous democracy. Although this claim seems intuitively plausible, the link between participatory constitution making and democratization has never been systematically tested. This book is the first to provide empirical support to the democratizing effect of citizen involvement in constitutional moments, yet showing that participation at the early deliberative stage of constitution making is what matters for the inauguration of a true liberal democracy. Constituents Before Assembly is a major contribution to the field of constitutional politics and will be indispensable reading not only for scholars interested in comparative constitutionalism but also for international agencies and reformers engaged in actual processes of constitution building.' Gabriel L. Negretto,, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico (CIDE)

    'Participatory constitution making is emerging as a new international norm. This ambitious book represents the first systematic attempt to study the impact of this new mode of crafting constitutions, which consists in seeking popular input at various stages of the process. Using advanced statistical techniques the authors show, among other things, that popular participation upstream of the process matters much more than downstream referenda. This book should prove invaluable to constitution designers around the world, as well as democratic theory scholars and anyone interested in ways of perfecting our democracies.' Hélène Landemore, Yale University, Connecticut

    'Comparative constitutional analysis is quite literally as old as Aristotle, as scholars have sought to find the wisest design for political institutions. But recently specialists have realized that politics as much as wisdom is at issue and they have turned their attention to the process by which constitutions are written. The authors of this empirically careful and conceptually sophisticated inquiry walk us through the political implications of who gets a voice, when, and how during a country's constitution drafting process.' Nathan J. Brown, George Washington University, Washington, DC and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2017
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316731659
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Introducing constitutions as political process
    1. A call to pens (even if not mightier than swords): how context and process prevail over content in constitutional change
    2. Making the constituents King: how constituent deliberation on new constitutions democratizes more than mere citizen participation
    3. Parchment politics: the importance of context and conditions to the convening of constitutions
    4. The logic of 'top down' elite constitutionalism: how imposed processes may (but usually do not) produce better democracy
    5. The logic of 'bottom up' constitutionalism: how popular processes tilt the odds in favor of democracy
    6. Interest groups versus individual participation, and the gap between ideal constitutional process and real world practices.

  • Authors

    Todd A. Eisenstadt, American University, Washington DC
    Todd A. Eisenstadt is Professor of Government at American University, Washington DC. His democratization and rule of law scholarship includes his award-winning dissertation book, Courting Democracy in Mexico: Party Strategies and Electoral Institutions (Cambridge, 2004). His research has been funded by Fulbright, the Ford and Mellon Foundations, and the National Science Foundation. He has held visiting appointments at El Colegio de México, Harvard University, Massachusetts, the University of California, San Diego, and the Latin American Social Science Faculty (FLACSO) in Ecuador.

    A. Carl LeVan, American University, Washington DC
    A. Carl LeVan is Associate Professor in the School of International Service at American University, Washington, DC. He is the author of Dictators and Democracy in African Development: The Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria (Cambridge, 2015), and co-editor of African State Governance: Subnational Politics and National Power (2015). Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego, he worked as a legislative director in the US Congress and later worked as a technical advisor to Nigeria's National Assembly.

    Tofigh Maboudi, Loyola University, Chicago
    Tofigh Maboudi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Loyola University, Chicago. His research on constitutional reform processes has appeared in the American Political Science Review and Political Research Quarterly. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in Political Science from American University Washington, DC, he worked as a foreign media consultant in Tehran, Iran where he received his Master's degree in North American Studies. During his Ph.D. program, he received several awards including the American University's Award for Outstanding Scholarship at the Graduate Level.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.