How to Amend a Constitution? Model, Axioms, and Supermajority Rules

Ben Abramowitz, Ehud Shapiro, Nimrod Talmon

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

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A self-governed society must have rules by which group decisions are made, and these rules are often codified in a written constitution. One of the defining features of a constitution is its degree of entrenchment, or how hard it is to change it by amendment. If it is too easy to make amendments, then the constitution can change too frequently, leading to chaos. On the other hand, if it is too hard to make amendments, then this can also be destabilizing, as voters may begin to see the rules as less legitimate, or even seek to overturn the status quo in a revolt. As norms, priorities, and circumstances change over time and over generations, a constitution must be able to adapt. Our work considers a stylized model of constitutions that use reality-aware supermajority rules to make decisions. We propose principles for designing amendment procedures for changing decision rules in these constitutions and propose a novel procedure based on these principles.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 5 Mar 2020


  • cs.MA


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