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Is there any state in the world, in which its Constitution doesn't call its President as the guarantor of the Constitution? Does "President" automatically imply that this person is also the guarantor of observance of the Constitution in the country?

  • Isn't the supreme court usually the guarantor of the constitution? – Trilarion Sep 4 '17 at 15:28
  • @Trilarion Why usually? Does the US Suprem Court role fluctuates? – ksjohn Sep 5 '17 at 13:00
  • @ksjohn between countries it does differ. Question is not US specific. – Trilarion Sep 5 '17 at 20:36
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    @ksjohn - There are supreme courts in Canada, Hong Kong, India and Israel. – brilliant Sep 5 '17 at 23:06
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    @ksjohn I meant it as a general comment. In most countries I know of, there is some kind of highest court / supreme court / constitutional court that is responsible for watching over the constitution. Germany and Poland are other examples for it. The name of the court is often different between countries. I only wrote supreme court and that may have caused the misunderstanding. – Trilarion Sep 6 '17 at 8:42
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While all elected politicians are expected to obey the law and respect the constitution, in Spain the guarantor of the constitution is the Tribunal Constitucional. This court is the one who examines laws made by the central ("federal") government and the autonomous regions ("states"), ruling if they're compatible with the constitution or not. Spain's head of state is its king, and he can (theoretically) refuse to sign any law, but since he's a mostly decorative figure, there's no actual way to veto a law, only denouncing it to the Constitutional Court and await its sentence.

  • Can anyone denounce a law to the constitutional court? – phoog Sep 4 '17 at 13:49
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    @phoog No, recourses for the unconstitionality of a law can be presented by the president of the government, the presidents of the autonomous regions, the "defensor del pueblo" (an ombudman-like figure), 50 deputies from Congress, 50 senators or the autonomous parlaments. Individuals can resort to this court on other issues, such as the "recurso de amparo", with which they challenge any judicial process against an individual if he/she feels his/her constitutional rights have not been respected. – Rekesoft Sep 5 '17 at 7:56
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There is at least one State, the United Kingdom, that has no formal Constitution - and no President, for that matter. So there's at least one country with no one formally in charge of guaranteeing its Constitution's observance.

Of the remaining countries, the Comparative Constitutions Project might have the relevant data to give a definite answer. Austria's President might be a good candidate, in that it has no veto power. But note that there are at least two enforcement mechanisms to guarantee that a Constitution is respected:

  • Countries can have someone with veto powers - usually a President or a Monarch. This role can involve defending the constitution, either because it's baked into the constitution itself (like in the US, whose Presidential oath's wording is part of the Constitution), or because of tradition (like in Germany). But it can also be entirely passive (like in the UK since 1704).

  • Countries can have an explicit Constitutional Court (like France) that can rip out part or all of a law on grounds that it doesn't respect the Constitution, or a High Court to the same effect (like the Supreme Court in the US).

  • The US president's power to veto legislation is not explicitly related to defending the constitution. The president can veto any legislation for any reason or for no reason. – phoog Sep 4 '17 at 10:58
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Several countries which were British colonies have a president with a mostly ceremonial role, similar to the role of the Queen - lots of respect, hardly any influence. Such presidents can't be considered "guarantor of the Constitution".

The president of Ireland doesn't seem to have any powers over legislation (he may refer laws he considers unconstitutional to the supreme court, but must accept its ruling).

In Israel the president has a mainly ceremonial role with no actual power, certainly not "guarantor of the Constitution" (also because Israel doesn't have a constitution).

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    This post needs some copy editing. – phoog Sep 4 '17 at 10:53
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There are numerous states which do not name the president as the guarantor of their Constitution. For example, USA or Germany. But as a public servant, the president has to take an oath, and these oaths usually include something to the effect of supporting and upholding the Constitution (or, as a more general case, the law), so yes, it is more or less implied in the name of the post.

  • Your two examples seem incorrect. Germany's president's explicit power is to veto laws that violate the Constitution. And the US presidential oath to uphold the Constitution is itself enshrined in the US Constitution. – Denis de Bernardy Sep 4 '17 at 7:17
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    @DenisdeBernardy I took a more literal approach, since there are Constitutions referring to the President as a "guarantor of the Constitution". Such notion is absent from Constitutions of Germany and USA. Also, according to this article, Germany's president technically can refuse to sign any law, it's just that no president has ever used this power without believing that the law was unconstitutional. – Danila Smirnov Sep 4 '17 at 7:35
  • @DenisdeBernardy "uphold" doesn't imply "guarantor." In the US, that role is largely fulfilled by the judiciary, not the presidency. Legislators and judges are also sworn to support the constitution. – phoog Sep 4 '17 at 11:10
  • @phoog - "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" - The text of the oath of office of the President of the United States. – brilliant Sep 4 '17 at 11:29
  • @brilliant yet one of the main purposes of the constitution is to limit the power of the president. It would not make sense to have a single person responsible for guaranteeing the constitution when the constitution is designed to prevent tyranny. "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution": from Article VI. – phoog Sep 4 '17 at 11:32
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Does "President" automatically imply that this person is also the guarantor of observance of the Constitution in the country?

You've got it a bit backwards.

You see, the Constitution is a magic piece of paper that prevents politicians from doing bad things to the masses, by way of magic.

If something is explicitly forbidden by a Constitution, then politicians just can't do it.

For example, in the US, the Constitution prevents the mass-surveillance that's going- Oh wait.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_Soviet_Union

Soviet constitutions declared certain political rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.

In the Soviet Union, the Constitution "declared" freedom of speech, and so its magic powers prevented Stalin from doing bad stuff to people who wanted to voice their concerns!


You probably get the idea. Any Constitution is essentially a PR-statement by the government. It says things you like to hear, but it doesn't actually matter at all, so something like a "guarantor of observance" doesn't make sense.

  • :) Quite true. Both sadly and funnily. :) – brilliant Sep 4 '17 at 12:17
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    While there's an element of truth to this, "doesn't matter at all" is taking it a bit far. Sure, governments do things that their constitutions are designed to prevent, but constitutions also stop governments from doing even more forbidden things than they otherwise would. – phoog Sep 4 '17 at 12:18
  • > Sure, governments do things that their constitutions are designed to prevent -- nnope, constitutions are designed to lull the masses into thinking being ruled over isn't that bad -- also, what's the difference between "forbidden" and "even more forbidden"? :D. .. aaand why does StackOverflow make these comments look like they were written by retards who can't press Enter? – Peter Lindstrom Sep 4 '17 at 14:14
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    I think this answers confuses "Constitution" with "Rule of law". You are right that without rule of law then the laws (including constitutions) will not properly defend the people, but that does not makes all of them PR-statements. – SJuan76 Sep 6 '17 at 9:12
  • Laws are essentially two things: 1) text on a piece of paper or computer somewhere, 2) commands issued by our rulers, that we're punished for disobeying.. and as such, laws don't "defend" the people any more than me shouting "give me your money or i'll stab you" would "defend" you. The so-called "rule of law" is just another brainwashing-trigger-word that we're programmed to feel good about, because it gives us the impression that there are things that our rulers "can't" do to us. Yes, the Constitution is part of that. But all that matters is what our rulers can get away with doing to us. – Peter Lindstrom Sep 6 '17 at 9:44

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