Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 127-137

First online:

Constitutional politics within the interest-group model

  • Daniel SutterAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, University of Oklahoma

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I examine constitutional politics using the interest-group model of politics. Constitutional economics argues that rent seeking is inevitable in majoritarian democracy and genuine reform is possible only at the constitutional level. By implication the constitutional equilibrium must differ from the political equilibrium. I examine reasons that such a difference might exist but find weak prospects for a general-interest victory over the special interest in constitutional politics. Although implicit constitutional change (for example, through Supreme Court reinterpretation) and explicit violation are substitute means of altering the constitution, the former dominates the latter. This suggests that a third factor participates in constitutional politics in addition to the general and special interests, which is support for the Constitution itself. Effective rules to restrain rent seeking need to ensure the congruence of the constitutional and general interests.