On Constitutional Processes and the Delegation of Power, with Special Emphasis on Israel and Central and Eastern Europe

Eli M. Salzberger, Stefan Voigt


Elected politicians—legislators and, in some systems, members of the executive—can choose to exercise authority themselves or to delegate that authority to any number of agencies. Such delegation of power can occur at the constitutional stage, but is most common at the post-constitutional stage. Two categories of delegation can be distinguished: domestic delegation to agencies within the legislators’ jurisdiction, and international delegation to supranational or international bodies. While some research has been done on domestic delegation, especially in the context of delegation to administrative agencies in the U.S., as well as on delegation to supranational bodies, especially with regard to the E.U., these activities have not been analyzed within a unified framework. This paper attempts to inquire into these issues and provide a general picture of the decision-making process regarding whether to delegate authority and to which body to transfer the authority.

The past decade has been a period of rapid change in Central and Eastern Europe. Almost all of these countries have either passed entirely new constitutions or substantially modified the old ones. This is a unique situation in which constitutional delegation of powers can be performed almost simultaneously with post-constitutional delegation. The constitutional process in Israel is very different. It has been underway for fifty years. However, it can also be characterized by simultaneous constitutional and post-constitutional choices. In this paper, we examine such delegation choices in nine countries. We describe the main differences among these countries with regard to delegation of power, try to trace their origins and analyze their effects on delegation of powers. One question raised is what are the ramifications of a quasi-simultaneous constitutional and post-constitutional choice? Have constitutional rules been chosen in anticipation of the necessary compatibility with the rules of international organizations that one wants to join? Has membership in international organizations led to a boost in credibility of those governments concerned?

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