Constitutional Origins and Liberal Democracy: The Impact of Elite Cooperation and Mass Participation

This paper examines the impact of different modalities of constitution-making on democratic regimes. It argues that the dispersion of power that makes possible elite cooperation not only facilitates the creation of legal limits on state action but also provide opposition parties and citizens alike with the means to make institutional constraints on executive power and civil liberties effective. We also propose that the effect of inclusive constitutional agreements should be larger during the critical early years of life of the new constitution, when the balance of power among the political forces that created the constitution tends to remain stable. We find support for these arguments using an original global dataset on the origins of constitutions adopted or implemented under democracy between 1900 and 2015 and a difference-in-differences design of quantitative analysis that allows us to isolate the differential impact of certain features of constitution-making on liberal democracy.