To everyone’s great surprise, the Canadian federal election of October 19 returned a majority Liberal government headed by Justin Trudeau. The immediate consequence of that majority was to render theoretical the speculation that took place in the last few weeks of the campaign about the consequences of a “hung Parliament,” i.e. a situation where no party obtains a majority in the House of Commons.
Canada’s political system is based on the Westminster model. Contrary to the United Kingdom, Canada has a written constitution, but that constitution says nothing about the formation of government. Rather, this is a subject governed by unwritten constitutional conventions. Most scholars agree that in a hung Parliament, the cardinal rule is that the government must always have the confidence of the House of Commons, which means the support of a majority of members. The party that obtains that confidence may or may not be the party with the largest number of members. Canadian history offers examples of situations where the party with the second largest number of seats succeeded in forming the government.Read More »
The Scottish independence referendum has now come and gone. Two years (or 307) in the making, the public debate was at times uninformed and glib, and marked occasionally by scaremongering, but it rose latterly to an admirable degree of maturity of substance. It was certainly spirited. Voter turnout, long an embarrassment in the United Kingdom at all levels of government, was an enthusiastic 84.6 percent. It attracted the interest not only of the usual suspects (the Catalans, the Basques, the Bavarians, the Québécois) but globally: Edinburgh was visited by a team of campaigners from Okinawa come to observe the event.Read More »
This post was originally published as the editorial to issue 1/2014 of the journal Percorsi Costituzionali devoted to freedom in internet
1. Anti-liberalism in the Twenty First Century is measured on the internet. In fact, the internet has become the place where intolerance comes to the fore, where censorship is exercised and where online dissent is muzzled. Recent events in Turkey, where Prime Minister Erdogan outlawed access to social networks (twitter and youtube), are emblematic of just how allergic certain countries are towards the web. Virtual walls are erected in place of stone walls: some countries have put up electronic barriers in order to block access to part of the global internet, and have done so by cancelling keywords, names and phrases from search engines, or by violating the privacy of their citizens. A new “e-iron curtain” is descending across part of the world, with videos and blogs representing the modern-day samizdats. However, this confirms the liberal vocation of the internet, and the fear of this global freedom by technology-averse countries, which experience it as a threat to their absolute power.Read More »
This blogpost is a review of the communication “El emperador en la Constitución japonesa” read at the seminar “Japón: la posición del Emperador y el principio de igualdad en la Constitución” held at the Faculty of Law of the University of Barcelona on March 18 2014.
The present Japanese Constitution was established in 1947, after World War II and was intended to replace Japan’s previous militaristic and absolute monarchy system with a form of liberal democracy.
This Constitution has various characteristics. First of all, the Japanese Constitution provides for a parliamentary system and guarantees certain fundamental rights.
Second, the Japanese Constitution, also known as “Peace Constitution”, is most characteristic and famous for the renunciation of the right to wage war contained in Article 9. Third, it states the sovereignty of the people and the Emperor of Japan is “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people” and exercises a purely ceremonial role without the possession of sovereignty.
In this seminar I talked about the Emperor system in the Japanese Constitution.Read More »
This blogpost is the second part following on from the first part published yesterday
The Two Referendum Acts
With the Edinburgh Agreement settling the arcane (to the general public at least) issues of competence, the Scottish Parliament moved quickly to legislate for a referendum. This consisted of two elements: one Act of the Scottish Parliament to define the franchise for the referendum (‘the Franchise Act’), and a second providing for the framing of the actual question being voted upon, oversight of the poll, and conduct rules for the campaign, including matters of funding and expenditure (‘the Referendum Act’).Read More »