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In the postcommunist countries of East and Central Europe, there has been a surprising revival of the concept of constitutionalism. Communism was dismantled by revolutions that were very different from our traditional expectation, initiated not by general strikes or by any kind of mass violence. Instead, it was the creative invention of institutions and rule that enabled the masses to make a "soft" break with the ancien regime. Core elements of constitutionalism—the rule of law, separation of powers, and individual human rights—were among the primary goals of the emerging new political elites. In fact, these revolutions were, from their inception, constitutional revolutions.
Preuss places these constitutional revolutions in a broader conceptual and historical context and analyzes the largely neglected connections between the concept of constitutionalism and the idea of progress. He sees serious new challenges to present-day constitutionalism and opens the debate as to whether the modern constitutional state will be able to cope. The result is a fresh and exciting new look at modern constitutionalism, its strengths and weaknesses.
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