Education

4 Different Types Of Constitution

In this article, we are going to list out the different types of constitutions, and also explain what they are all about. Before we delve into the types of constitutions, it is very important to understand the meaning of the word “Constitution”.

Constitution is a body of fundamental rules, principles; laws, and conventions that govern a particular state or country. The constitution sets out the laws which control the workings of a government while also providing for the rights and duties of citizens of the country. The Constitution sets out the forms of government that a country wishes to adopt.

4 Major Types Of Constitution

Below are the different types of constitutions you need to know:

1. Written Constitution:

The constitution is contained and printed in a single document, Nigeria has a written constitution.

Advantages Of Written Constitution
1. It Is Accessible To Citizens:

The fact that all the laws are contained in a single document means that every citizen can have easy access to them. This will make the citizens know the laws of the state.

2. It Is Definite:

The laws are spelled out and not subject to manipulation. This gives the people confidence as it serves as a check on the government.

3. It Makes The Judiciary Play More Roles:

If there are conflicts, the judiciary has a basis for interpretations of the law. Disputes especially those involving the government are settled in court.

4. Its Amendment Process Is Difficult:

The amendment process ensures thoroughness and undue manipulation by those who implement the laws.

Disadvantages Of A Written Constitution
1. It May Not Meet Emergencies:

The amendment process is rigid. This makes amendments aimed at meeting changes and emergencies difficult.

2. It Leaves Room For Conflict:

There may be an overlap of functions thereby creating disputes among the various arms of government.

3. Hardly Meet Future Needs:

This can be seen in the number of constitutional amendments made by countries that practice this type of constitution.

2. Unwritten Constitution:

There is no one document containing all the laws upon which a state is governed. The laws are not contained in a single document but its provisions are found in several documents. Britain is a typical example that has an unwritten and un-dated constitution. It uses such laws and conventions as:

Magna Carta of 1215.

The Petition of Rights 1628.

The Bill of Rights of 1689.

The Act of Union with Scotland of 1707.

The Parliament and Electoral Reform Acts of 1932, 1911, and 1949.

law of constitution
Generally, unwritten constitutions are found in such documents as:

1. Agreements

2. Bonds

3. Charters

4. Court Verdicts

5. Parliamentary Resolutions

Sources Of Unwritten Constitution

There are many sources of the unwritten constitution:
1. Documents And Statutes:

Documents are mainly hooks, articles, and letters written by early political thinkers in which they set out their thoughts.

While statutes refer to laws passed by fhs early parliaments aimed at checking the excesses of the kings and protecting individual rights and liberty. E.g. Bill of Rights; Magna Carter.

2. Parliamentary Acts:

These were laws passed by the parliament or acts that become law through parliamentary approval. These acts include the Acts of 1918 and 1928.

3. Conventions:

These are customs and practices that have been accepted as part of the laws of the state. The violation of such conventions could lead to the breakdown of law and order. Some conventions in Britain include the resignation of the government if it is defeated in an election or if a vote of no confidence is passed on the government.

4. Case Laws:

This is a judgment given by courts of competent jurisdiction.

Advantages Of Unwritten Constitution

1. It Is Flexible And Allows For Quick Decisions Because The Laws Are Not Written:

It is easy to amend and rigorous methods of arriving at decisions are not set out.

2. It Meets Changes More Readily:

Situations that were not anticipated at the time a constitution is being written could arise or the letter of the law may conflict with the spirit of the law, these situations will not pose a problem to a country with an unwritten constitution. Unwritten constitutions are dynamic so they meet changes more readily.

3. It Can Be Adopted To Meet The Demands By The Organs Of Government:

Provision can be made to meet the needs of either the legislature, the executive, or the judiciary.

4. It Does Not Establish Areas Of Dispute:

Because the laws are not spitted out in a single document, it is difficult for it to incorporate provisions that will create room for dispute among the various organs of government.

5. It Allows For Compromise:

Should conflicts arise, it is easy to reach a compromise since there won’t be constitutional inhibitions in conflict resolution.

types of constitution

Disadvantages Of Unwritten Constitution

1. It Can Be Abused:

The inability of the Constitution to clearly define the limits of power, checks, and balances would lead to abuse.

2. It Cannot Meet The Needs Of A Country With A Large Population:

Countries with large populations normally have people of different cultural backgrounds. The interests of these people are best protected in a written constitution.

3. It Creates A Lot Of Confusion:

The absence of a single document called a constitution could lead to the people not knowing the laws in the country. Many people may not have access to the laws and this creates confusion.

 

3. Rigid Constitution:

This refers to constitutional that have special amendment procedures. They cannot be amended. Most Constitutions that are written are rigid. It takes a two-thirds majority vote of the assembly to effect amendments.

A rigid constitution requires special, complex, and more technical procedures for its amendment. For example, some of the provisions of the Indian constitution require the acceptance of a majority of members in both houses and a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. It also requires the ratification by not less than half of the state legislature before it is presented for the assent of the President.

4. Flexible Constitution:

They are constitutional whose amendment process is easily done through an ordinary law-making process. For a constitution to be flexible, it provides a simple procedure for its amendment.

It means a bill proposing the amendment is passed in each house by the simple majority of members present and voting and on receiving the assent of the President or Governor, has the effect of amending the constitution e.g. Great Britain. Also, unwritten constitutions are flexible.

In conclusion, these are the four major types of constitution, although there are many types of constitution. But listed above are the major types that prescribe the organization of the government of a country.

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