Government » Constitutions » Types of Constitution

Types of Constitution

A constitution is a legal body that defines and regulates laws in a country. Any constitution serves a particular purpose at a particular time for a country. For instance, Germany rewrote their constitution in 1949, shortly after the Second World War. The USA created their modified constitution in 1787, soon after gaining the independence from Britain. Therefore, every constitution serves its purpose. Nevertheless, all constitutions can be divided into several types according to their characteristics. 

Written and Unwritten Constitutions

Written constitution is a type of document or documents created in the form of laws. Written constitutions are usually very precise and systematic. The creation of this constitution is usually defined as a deliberate effort of the people. This legal body is elected to be the main legal document for the specific period of history. Most countries have a written constitution, like the USA, India, Russia, France, Germany, Nigeria, and so on.

The unwritten constitution is a legal body where the principles have never been enacted as laws. It consists of various customs, principles or traditions of a country. It does not have a specific date of creation and is not clear or precise in any way. Unwritten constitutions are usually a result of the historical development of a country. One of the classical examples is the English Constitution.

Codified and Uncodified Constitutions

Codified and uncodified constitutions are simply another name for written and unwritten constitutions. The codified constitution is a set of laws created at a specific period of time. At the same time, uncodified constitution type is based on customs and traditions. Nevertheless, there are no completely codified and uncodified constitutions.

Every codified constitution has uncodified elements. For instance, take a classic example of the USA constitution. The constitution of America provides for indirect elections of the President. Still, the USA elections are already direct. In the same vein, the uncodified constitution of England has a lot of codified law acts.

Flexible and Inflexible Constitutions

These generally refer to how easy you can change some clauses of the constitution. Codified constitutions have a strict set of rules for when it comes to constitution changes. One of the examples of inflexible constitutions is the USA constitution. The specificity of this constitution makes it very inflexible for changes. At the same time, the British Constitution has constantly been changing since the 13th century.

Monarchy and Republican Constitutions

The Monarchy Constitution is one of the various types of constitution that provides no head of the state power to citizens of a country unless they are related to a monarch. This type of constitution may proclaim an endless political power to a monarch or limit his/her political power. 

The Republican Constitution is the most popular constitution today. It proclaims rights and freedoms for all citizens. At the same time, it provides the ability to choose political leaders or be chosen as a political leader.

Presidential and Parliamentary Constitutions

Presidential and Parliamentary constitutions depends on how a government operates. The presidential constitution places power in the hands of a president. The parliamentary constitution gives power to a parliament. These types of constitution primarily effect the head of the executive and the head of state branches.

The presidential constitution usually dictates that the head of the state and the head of the executive branch is a president. He/she is not a part of any political party. On the contrary, the parliamentary constitution dictates that the head of the state can be a prime minister. He/she can also be a part of a political party.

Federal and Unitary Constitutions

Constitutions can also be divided into unitary and federal types. The federal constitution provides the ability to create the governments at the state level. These governments can also have their constitutions. Nevertheless, these should be connected and controlled by the central government. The Unitary Constitution does not accept any governmental power beyond the central government. Still, it can also provide the devolution of power to parts of a country on the local level.

Political and Legal Types of Constitution

The political constitution is connected with people who hold the political power in a country. The political constitution is based on the concept of majoritarianism. It means that the elected majority can enact laws that will affect the electorate. The political constitution is flexible and changeable. Legal type of constitution is heavily scripted. One of the main proclamation of this Constitution is the Supreme Court. This legislative body is prescribed to make any changes of the constitution possible. This body also controls and monitor the process of constitutional changes.

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