The Constitutionalisation of a compound democracy: comparing the European Union with the American experience

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Series Details No 3, 2008
Publication Date 2008
ISSN 1756-7556
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Based on an interpretation of the European Union (EU) as a compound democracy, this article argues that the constitutionalisation of the European Union is necessarily a
contested process.. A compound democracy is defined as a union of states constituted by units of different demographic size, political history and geographical interests, and as such is necessarily characterized by different views on its constitutional identity. The EU
experience is analyzed from the perspective of the United States (US), which is a compound democracy by design. In both cases, constitutionalisation has been an open and
contested process. However, whereas the US process was based on a common constitutional framework, at least since the Civil War, and has been ordered by a supermajority
procedure for settling disputes, the EU lacks a document that embodies a shared language and a procedure that is able to solve the disputes. As a result, the process of
constitutionalisation in the EU, contrary to the one in the US, ends up periodically in stalemate.

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