The constitution is the basic and main law of any state; it implies the proclamation and guarantee of the rights and freedoms of citizens. The norms of the constitution also presuppose a description of the social system of the state, the dominant form of government, the methods of territorial organization. The document also describes the process of formation of the central and regional governing bodies, the coat of arms and flag, and the text of the national anthem.
What is CONSTITUTION — definition and meaning in simple words.
In simple words, the Constitution is the basic law of the country, which has legal consolidation at the level of the highest instances. It prescribes a number of basic provisions that help to structure life in the state. Important institutions, norms, and values are fixed in the document, as well as the main points related to the regulation of the work of the authorities.
If we summarize the above, we can deduce the main features of the constitution as the highest legal document of the country.
- It describes and establishes the state system, the form of government and the powers of local authorities;
- Enumerates and enshrines the rights and freedoms of man and citizen;
- It is characterized by stability: the document is amended very rarely and only after a special vote;
- Becomes the basis for functioning legislation;
- There is a special procedure for adopting or amending the constitution;
- The document has priority in the entire territory of the State;
- It is a legal act of direct action.
The main functions of the CONSTITUTION.
The functions of the constitution are notable for their breadth – a legal act of this type is designed to regulate almost all spheres of life of citizens. Several main factors can be distinguished:
- Constitutive function. Its essence is that the constitution is considered the basis for the existence of any state of law.
- Foreign policy. Its importance lies in the regulation of international political relations, including the nature of international politics.
- The purpose of this function is to describe the prospects of the country’s development and the main tasks to be solved by the government and the people.
- Ideological (not present in all). Some normative-legal acts are arranged in such a way that they additionally fix the political communist doctrine as well. That was the case in the process of creation of the Constitution of the USSR.
- The role of the constitution in this case is to legally regulate the relations of various spheres of activity of citizens.
The very notion of the Constitution means that it establishes and protects the economic, social, political and legal relations in the society of the country. Summarizing all of the above, we can conclude that this legal act is aimed at ensuring the sovereignty of the people, the division of power into three main branches (legislative, executive, judicial), as well as guarantees of the rights and freedoms of citizens.
In many ways, the constitution is meant to reflect the characteristics of the state and its citizens. It helps in matters of self-identification, becomes the basis for the formation of the worldview of citizens, allows for the control of various spheres of relations in the cross-section of man-human and man-state.
Characteristics of the constitution: basic varieties.
In form, a constitution exists in two basic varieties – legal and factual. These two types have several distinctive characteristics. The first version is aimed at regulating legal relations between subjects. The second variety deals with actually existing relations: describes the intricacies of their existence, the rights, and obligations of the parties, and much more.
There are several other types of constitution:
- The main feature of such a normative legal act is that it is the only one necessary to regulate the different nature of legal relations between subjects.
- Uncodified differs from the previous version by the fact that there are still a number of documents that are designed specifically to regulate relations.
- The mixed type includes doctrinal interpretations, descriptions of customs, as well as an enumeration of parliamentary laws and judicial precedents.
Constitutional norms can be either rigid or flexible. Flexible regulations can be changed by adopting the appropriate law. A rigid constitution can only be amended if a whole set of actions are followed. In order to adopt amendments, a referendum is held, a vote of the deputies begins, and ratification by individual state subjects may also be necessary.
There are two other types of constitution, depending on the duration of the constitution. These are permanent and temporary normative legal acts.
History of the constitution: from the first versions to the modern ones.
If we talk about this document in its modern meaning, then it is worth saying that the first constitution appeared in the United States. It was a set of basic laws, the function of which was the legal regulation of various relations. At that time this unique document became the necessary legal basis, under which the whole civil democratic system was adjusted.
But the prototypes of the constitution were much earlier. Even a few centuries before our era, laws were beginning to be created to regulate the relations of citizens. Solon, Servius Tullius and Lycurgus were the first to create a legal code for human life. But the document was not always recorded in writing.
- For example, the law of Sparta (the Great Retreat) was passed down exclusively orally from generation to generation. These provisions regulated the life of society in many ways. What is also interesting about such a law is that it was the people who were given the most power. Before the final decision was made, a council would meet near the river. During such gatherings, proposals were made, or existing provisions were discussed. Thus, the prototypes of the constitution were made by the citizens themselves.
- According to some historians, the first state constitution was formulated and approved in a small state – San Marino. It was adopted back in 1600, and has been used as the main legal act ever since. It is also interesting that it was based on the constitution of 1300, which regulates legal relations in the city.
- According to others, the oldest constitution is the English Magna Carta, or Great Charter of Liberties. For this reason, Great Britain is generally considered the birthplace of constitutionalism.
- Still other historians find the roots of the constitution in Ukraine. Pylyp Orlik’s unrecognized document was created in 1710 in the Ottoman Empire. Its main content concerned the rights and liberties of the Zaporozhian army. The document was signed by Pylyp Orlyk himself and a number of the elders. However, this act had no legal backing. The First Constitution of Ukraine / The Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk.
- Another of the first samples of the constitution is a document of the United States. This creation of the constitution took place at the end of the eighteenth century and is still in use today. This act was passed as early as September 17, 1787, and was the first constitution put in writing. The document was adopted at a council in Philadelphia and is considered the first constitution in the sense we are accustomed to. The legal act of the United States consists of 7 main parts, but all 27 amendments are an integral part of it. It describes the dominant state system, justifies the territorial division, implements the division of power into legislative, executive and judicial branches.
Thus, the very first constitution in the usual sense is a document of the United States. It had legal force, was fixed on paper, and continues to function to this day.