Political parties, voting systems, and the twin challenges of fragmented and unduly concentrated political power

Constitutions typically structure a fairly “thin” system of democracy, by (1) creating a set of political institutions, (2) granting voting and free speech rights, and (3) specifying the terms of elected officials and the mode of election of the president, where there is one. But constitutions relatively rarely address the other essential components of democracy that give any system its more specific contours. These include the voting system for the legislature, almost everything about political parties, and internal legislative procedures. These key institutional features of democracy are mostly left to legislation and/or to self-regulation. This paper explores the possibility and desirability of constitutionalizing these democratic choices, and the merits of different design options. In particular, it will focus on whether and how constitutional and institutional design might address the twin contemporary democratic challenges of fragmented and unduly concentrated political power.