oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The genesis and evolution of European-American constitutionalism: some comments on the fundamental aspects

Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



The absolute state that emerged from the religious wars in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries was to undergo a profound transformation. In a long and difficult political, social and legal process it evolved into a constitutional state, that is to say, a state whose structure and functions and whose boundaries in relation to the individual citizen were determined by a legal system based on specific fundamental principles. That constitutional state has over the past two hundred years become the quintessence of many bodies politic, a natural element of our political philosophy. This article includes a review of the development of the constitutional state and its essential features. The article also include a review the development of the constitutional state, What in America was a mere inference from the constitution which was based on many arguments and principles, has been written into the constitution of South Africa and those of other West European countries, such as Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France. In this way, constitutional jurisdiction has led to the consummation of the constitutional state. It is not only a logic of the constitution and its supreme legal authority, but also a logic of the relationship between the citizen and his state which is regulated by fundamental rights that have been bitterly fought for.

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