Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS


RECONFORT Berichtzusammenfassung

Project ID: 339529
Gefördert unter: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Land: Germany

Mid-Term Report Summary - RECONFORT (Reconsidering Constitutional Formation.Constitutional Communication by Drafting, Practice and Interpretation in 18th and 19th century Europe)

Seven graduate historians and legal scholars from Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Italy and Spain conduct research under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Ulrike Müßig (University of Passau) on European constitutional history in the 18th and 19th century. The project aims at investigating the cross-border interplays between constitutional process and public debates in late 18th and 19th century Europe. Constitution is not only a body of text, but rather the consensus of those to be ruled by the constituted sovereignty. ReConFort understands constitution as an evolutionary achievement assessing the interplay of the constitutional text, societal context, political practice and constitutional interpretation. The guiding principle of ReConFort is to find “discourse”-related explanation models for the rather paradigmatic experimental nature, ambiguity or indetermination of constitutional texts with regard to state-organisational core elements.

On the basis of so far unknown historical sources, ReConFort achieved the following new results beyond the state-of-the-art. National sovereignty in the debates around the Polish Great Sejm is enriched by the old aristocratic understanding of the Nation as one of the Polish noblemen’ and the inaccuracies in its opening towards a general political body (cf. constitutional rank of the municipal law of April 18, 1791) result in a remarkable procedural openness to the Polish May Constitution 1791. National sovereignty in the Spanish Cádiz Constitution 1812 is connected to the anti-Napoleonic context of the constitutional process. The Cádiz’ liberal understanding is influenced by and combines the supra-legal limitations for the royal government with the historical legitimization of the Cádiz constitution by the old fundamental laws of the Monarchy. In Belgium, a parliament took over the task of drafting a constitution after the Revolution of 1830, leaving the soon-to-be-appointed King only the role of “pouvoir constitué”. In the octroi of the Piedmontese Statuto Albertino 1848, the constituent act of granting the fundamental law was communicated to maintain the plenitudo potestatis of the absolute monarchy, to rationalize the old royal sacredness. The Italian coincidence of the monarchical sovereignty in its absoluteness with the granting of the Albertine Statute was meant to avoid any scope for the differentiation between pouvoir constituant and pouvoir constitué. The improvised parliamentarism in the Frankfurt National Assembly on the basis of a ‘constitutionalist’ constitution corresponds with the openness of the “Sovereignty of the Nation” whereby Heinrich von Gagern inaugurated the Paulskirchen-assembly. This avowal to the singular and unlimited pouvoir constituant of a non-existing German nation does not make sense as a programmatic claim to self-government, but reflects the indecisiveness of the post-kantian liberalism between monarchical and popular sovereignty. It avoided the open commitment to popular sovereignty and thus the conflict with the monarchy, enabling a consensual framework between imperial government and parliamentary majority. These achievements will be published within an innovative comparative context as an open access volume "ReConFort I: National Sovereignty" with Springer.

The set of key passages ‘national sovereignty/constituent sovereignty’, ‘precedence of constitution’, ‘judiciary as constituted power’ and ‘justiciability of politics’ together with the remotely-based working organization of the international post-doc group enables ReConFort to combine comparative constitutional history and transfer history, which opens up a framework to establish European constitutional models attractive for Arabic and Asiatic neighbors for the current challenges in the Middle East and North Africa.

Reported by

Universität Passau
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