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Public Choice

, Volume 177, Issue 3–4, pp 199–216 | Cite as

Constitutional political economy, democratic theory and institutional design

  • Georg VanbergEmail author
Article

Abstract

Democracy and constitutionalism are both central to the Western political tradition. And yet, constitutional restrictions are often perceived to be in tension with democratic commitments. I argue that the constitutional political economy approach developed by Nobel Laureate James Buchanan resolves the tension between constitutionalism and the values of democratic governance by shifting the analysis from a system-attributes perspective that focuses on the particular institutional properties of a political order to a system-legitimacy perspective that focuses on the manner in which political institutions gain democratic legitimacy. In so doing, the approach reveals that constitutionalism can be understood as a natural expression of democratic values.

Keywords

Constitutional political economy Democratic theory Constitutionalism Judicial review 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper is an expanded version of the Presidential Address delivered at the 2018 Public Choice Society Meetings in Charleston, SC. I would like to thank Leah Downey, Mike Munger, Richard Salsman, William Shughart, and Viktor Vanberg for helpful comments on an earlier draft.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political Science and LawDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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