Summary - Terms - Essential Questions - Headlines - Major Theories and Ideas - Past AP Questions - Comparative Chart
Within government systems, institutions design the structures of government organizations that shape the interests of groups and individuals. A constitution is an institution that establishes the fundamentals of a political system and its laws. Each constitution has its own separate powers between levels of government. These government powers include an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a possible judiciary. Since constitutions discuss its governmental features, they are the key to understanding the countries regime attributes and political aspirations.
|Unitary vs. Federal||Federal||Federal Republic||Unitary, constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy||Federal Republic||Unitary, authoritarian, written constitution, officially socialist||Unitary, theocracy, some features of presidential and parliamentary democracy
A multiparty system, but with restrictions
Lower chamber: House of Reps
Upper Chamber: Senate
Lower chamber: Chamber of Deputies
Upper chamber: Senate
Lower chamber: House of Commons
Upper chamber: House of Lords
Lower chamber: state duma
Upper chamber: federation council
|National People’s Congress; elected in indirect elections from the village level up to NPC||Elected parliament (majlis)
The Guardian Council can veto legislation
Direct election w/natl. Popular vote
Runoff with top two candidates who must secure 50% of the vote in the 1st round
If not, they must secure 25% of the vote in ⅔ of the state
PRI dominated until 2000 when PAN broke the monopoly
President elected by popular vote
|Prime Minister (and cabinet)
Elected by the House of Commons
|Semi-presidential: president and PM
President is elected and appoints PM
|Indirect; president selected by NPC
Three top positions:
President of people’s republic of China: the secretary general of the communist party; chairman of the central military council
Head of government
|Election from within a set of candidates… approved by Guardian Council|
|Judiciary||Supreme court, appointed by the president, confirmed by Senate||Supreme court of Justice, 11 justices
Justices are nominated by the executive and approved by the legislature
No judicial review
|Constitutional court = judicial review
Supreme arbitration court of the Russian Federation: economic issues
|Supreme Court elected/appointed by NPC and its committees||Controlled by religious conservatives, with Islamic law as the basis of the system
Supreme court and Judicial high council
|Theresa May (PM)||Putin (president)
|Xi Jinping (president)
Li Keqiang (PM)
Khamenei (PM, Ayatollah)
Major Theories and Ideas
Function: Express the value of a society, especially the ones relating to the unity of the people.
They are the contract of modern states and are usually written.
They outline the basic and foundational laws of that country.
Constitutions have two leading elements: federalism vs. unitarism and judicial power to review laws.
Do the specificity and strictness of constitutions substantially limit the power of the government?
Are there fundamental differences between the constitutions of authoritarian societies and democratic societies?
Is the choice of abstract review versus concrete review a direct and inevitable consequence of the characteristics of the constitution?
What should be the goal of constitutions?
When constitutional ideas differ from changing moral standards, is it just to amend the constitution?
Can a strict constitution coexist with a robust federal system?
Should governments control constitutions, or should constitutions control governments?
With current computer technology, what are ways to predict a potential constitution’s impact on the state?
Past AP Questions
Free Response Question: What are some of the sources of political legitimacy established by the constitution of Iran? (2011)
Free Response Question: In recent years, there have been many suggestions to change the constitutional structure of the United Kingdom. Describe some of these proposals. (2000)