Latin America is a region that has seen many constitutions replaced in the context of democratic regimes, including through constituent assemblies convoked to those ends (such as in Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela). The recent Chilean experience arrives at a time when reflections about the benefits and risks of constitutional reform are publicly discussed by different stakeholders. These discussions are happening as awareness increases about the fact that constitutional reform is not necessarily a panacea or a curse and that its effect on the consolidation and overall quality of democracy varies. Each country has its own experience that deserves to be weighed and analyzed on its own. But there is also cumulative comparative knowledge that can be developed about how these processes work, under what conditions and to what effects across different cases. This paper analyzes and compares the Constitutional redrafting processes in Venezuela 1999 and the current process in Chile.
Since ruling C-551 of 2003, the Constitutional Court of Colombia has declared a total of 8 constitutional reforms unconstitutional. It has also declared part of the reforms unconstitutional and has made interpretations of them. The paper will explain the doctrine of the substitution of the constitution in Colombia, the methodologies of analysis of this cases by the Court and their possible problems of them.
Discussing the three papers presented.
In 2020, the Constitutional Court struck down a constitutional amendment, preventing Congress from regulating a matter that, according to the Constitution, can only be initiated by the president. The Court defended a presidential model based on a Constitution that a Constitutional Convention will soon replace. It tried to defend a “lame duck” Constitution. In 2021, a similar case arrived at the Court but, this time, the Court decided not to hear it. This essay makes two arguments: First, the cases bring light to a democratic but unusual way to justify the UCAD. Instead of preserving the democratic minimum core, the UCAD can help to stabilize political processes defending the president’s legislative power. Second, as a weak and divided Court sustained the first decision, and stronger electoral pressures influenced the second case, the Court’s doctrine can fail. Using the doctrine to defend a “lame duck” constitution brings new challenges that the literature has yet to explore.