Government

Meaning, Types, Qualities and Importance of Constitution

len Alfred Ajibola - Tue, 16th April, 2019 @ 12:49: PM

Topics in Government

Democracy and Types of Democracy Democracy - Characteristics of Democracy Government - Types and Forms of Government Characteristics, Functions and Importance of Government Definitions, Branches, Scope and Divisions of Government Organs, Arms or Branches of Government and their Functions Meaning, Types, Qualities and Importance of Constitution Meaning, Types and Characteristics of Pressure Group Gender Equality, Ways to achieve Gender Equality


Academic Questions in Government

Please check out our Test Your Knowledge page to see all Questions and Answers

The definition of democracy as "Government of the people, by the people and for the people" is a concept of _____.

  • A. John F. Kennedy
  • B. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • C. Aristotle
  • D. George W. Bush
  • E. Kamala Harris
  • F. Abraham Lincoln

A form of government where the wealthy rule the people is known as _____.

  • A. plutocracy
  • B. timocracy
  • C. technocracy
  • D. meritocracy
  • E. richocracy
  • F. autocracy

Which of the following countries isn't a result of the disintegration of the Soviet Union (USSR)?

  • A. Malta
  • B. Latvia
  • C. Moldova
  • D. Estonia
  • E. Georgia
  • F. Uzbekistan

Meaning of Constitution:

No one is above the constitution, even the president. The government can only act in accordance to the powers granted them by the constitution. All the citizens of a country are to live by the rules in the constitution which can be written or unwritten.

Please read on Gender Equality here

The constitution determines how powers should be distributed and exercised among the various organs of government and those over whom such powers will be exercised.

It also contains the fundamental human rights of the citizens within a country.

Ultimately, the constitution is the supreme and fundamental law of a country or state.

With regards to the above introduction, we can deduce the followings concerning the constitution:

The constitution is the supreme law in a country, nation or state.

The constitution specifies how the nation or state should be governed.

The constitution gives power to the different organs of the government, for example, the executive, judiciary and legislature.

Please read on the Organs/Arms here

The constitution consists of all the fundamental human rights of the people.

Juxtaposing the above points, we can therefore define a constitution thus:

Constitution is a supreme law that specifies the government of a nation, the distribution of powers to the different organs of government within that nation and the fundamental rights of all her citizens.

Please read on the Fundamental Human Rights here

 

Types of Constitution

1. A constitution can be written or unwritten.

A written constitution will contain a document or series of document merged in the form of a book.

It is always enacted by a constituent assembly and can be amended based on how the amendment process had been defined in the constitution itself.

Written constitutions are codified, meaning that the constitutional document is the supreme law of the country and can only be amended or judged by a constitutional court.

Countries like Nigeria, United States of America and France all utilizes a written constitution.


An unwritten constitution is uncodified, meaning that its foundation and evolution is based on historical laws and concepts on the countries in which they govern.

Unwritten Constitution is not written into a book nor enacted by a constituent assembly.

Generally, the people of the country know their constitution and have come to embrace it. The United Kingdom makes use of an unwritten constitution.

Note: Some parts of an unwritten constitution are actually written in a book but such books may not be considered to be a legal document.

Please read on Definition, Scope, Branches and Division of Government here

 

2. A constitution can also be flexible or inflexible (Inflexible constitution is sometimes referred to as a Rigid constitution).

The flexibility of a constitution determines the level of ease at which such constitution can be amended. For example, the constitution of Nigeria and United States of America is inflexible (or rigid) because it very difficult to make changes on it.

  • Inflexible or Rigid Constitution

To amend a rigid constitution, the legislature will first need to pass the amendment bill, usually with the approval of 2/3rd majority of its constituent members.

The people of the nation may influence the passing of the amendment bill, thus a rigid constitution is often considered to reflect the will of the people.

Advantages of a Rigid Constitution

  1. It is stable for an administration’s continuity.
  2. It is perfect for a Federation.
  3. It prevents dictatorship by any of the arms of government.
    Please read on Dictatorship as a Form of Government here.
  4. The political party in power cannot easily manipulate the constitution for their political gains.

Disadvantages of a Rigid Constitution

  1. It cannot keep up with a constant changing environment.
  2. Its difficulty to amend and can cause a revolt by the people.
  3. It may hinder developmental progress because of its difficulty in amendment.
    Please read on Meaning, Causes, Consequences and Solutions to Illiteracy here.

 

  • Flexible Constitution

A flexible constitution can be easily amended because it does not require complex procedures.

The British constitution is a typical example of a flexible constitution.

With a simple majority, the British parliament can make or amend the laws of the constitution.

Advantages of a Flexible Constitution

  1. It can easily be modified with regards to the present political and social environment of a nation.
  2. It is constantly developed and always up to date.
  3. It decreases the chances of revolt by the people.

Disadvantages of a Flexible Constitution:

  1. It is unstable.
  2. The frequent amendment of a constitution is not good for a Federation.

 

3. The presidential, parliamentary, federal and unitary constitutions are also considered to be types of constitution.

In a presidential constitution, the president is the head of the execute arm of government. He or She is also Head of States.

The president is not a member of the judiciary, senate or house of representative.

In a parliamentary constitution, the prime minister is the head of the executive arm of government; and the members of the legislative arm of government is accountable to him or her.

Please read on Characteristics, Functions and Importance of Government here

The federal constitution is seen in countries like Nigeria and USA.

There is a central government and a state government. The president heads the central government while the various governors head each of their respective state within the country.

This type of constitution provides for the legislative competence under the central and state government.

The unitary constitution is practiced by the United Kingdom. The nations involved are centrally governed.

At present, it appears to be shifting into the federal type of constitution because some power are gradually tilting into the hands of the other constituents’ nations of the United Kingdom, which includes Wales, Northern Island and Scotland.

 

4. Other types of constitution are the evolved and enacted constitutions.

 

Qualities of a Constitution

  1. It is neither too rigid nor too flexible.
  2. It accounts for the rule of law, de-centralization of power, an independent Judiciary system and processes of election transparency.
  3. It accounts for the fundament human rights of the people.
  4. It allocates power to the different arms of government.
  5. It must uphold the people’s sovereignty.
    Please read on Democracy and Types of Democracy here.
  6. It is written systematically.

 

Importance of Constitution

  1. It upholds the people’s sovereignty.
    Please read on God's Sovereignty here.
  2. It protects the citizen’s fundamental human rights.
  3. It governs the citizens of a nation; as no one is above the constitution.
  4. It provides a means of separation of powers.
  5. It projects the goals of a nation.

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len

Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.


Amazing facts in Government


NOTABLE POINTS IN Government

Anarchy is one of the forms of government. Ironically, it is the absence of government in a society, country or state.

An instance of anarchy occurred in Somalia in 1991 after a dictator name Said Barre was overthrown. This made Somalia disintegrate into fractions with local warlords imposing their authority over their land/area.

Other forms of government includes:

  1. Oligarchy
  2. Colonialism
  3. Monarchy
  4. Communism
  5. Federalism
  6. Dictatorship
  7. Democracy
  8. Meritocracy
  9. Autocracy
  10. Aristocracy 

Please read on the various forms of government here

Democracy is a form of government where the power of choosing a leader is vested on the people. It represents a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

According to Abrahim Lincoln,

Democracy means government of the people, by the people and for the people.

In democracy, the citizens have the rights to vote and be voted for. The citizens are mandated to choose their preferred candidate by voting for them through their political party. In fact, this voting process is considered as one of the civic responsibility of every citizen.

Please read on the fundamental Human Rights here.

NOTE: No one is above the rule of law in the democratic system. If the election outcome does not reflect the mandate of the people, a court of competent jurisdiction can nullify such election.

Democracy is practiced in countries like Nigeria, United States of America, India and South Africa.

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