The United States has a constitution with a separation of powers keeping it from becoming a dictatorship.

What about countries with a single-housed parliment without a constitution (such as Israel[1])?

If a party would win 61% of the parliament, can they just legally cancel the next election?

[1]: Even though Israel has "basic laws", they are legally the same as all other laws and don't require a "super-majority" or anything like that. And even if it did, the US has a much harder time amending the constitution.

  • @user662852 Congress cannot unilaterally amend the constitution. At least thirty-eight states would have to agree. – phoog Feb 5 '16 at 15:36
  • @phoog asker specifically said that Congress cannot do what he said. – Viktor Feb 5 '16 at 16:15
  • @Viktor but the now-deleted comment by user662852 implied or asserted that congress could vote itself out of existence by amending the constitution. – phoog Feb 5 '16 at 16:18
  • @phoog I understand now. Actually I believe all the states would need to approve such a measure because Article 5 prohibits amendments that deny equal suffrage in the Senate. – Viktor Feb 5 '16 at 16:19
  • 1
    @Viktor article 5 states that each state must have the same number of votes in the senate; whether that implies that the Senate cannot be abolished without unanimous consent of the states seems at best a matter for argument. If the senate were abolished, all states would have the same representation, namely zero. – phoog Feb 5 '16 at 16:22

You can certainly do so: it's been done many times in the past, and can be done even with a written constitution. The most recent famous example that I know of would be how the Nazi party used the Enabling Act, 1933 and Reichstag Fire Decree, 1933 to amend the constitution by essentially neutering all the safeguards, and used force to ensure that they could stay in power. Julius Caesar's reforms follow in a similar vein.

For someone to successfully force change like this, you generally need a political system that is unstable and has no strong (or at least effective) checks and balances. Additionally, you need the support of the military because otherwise they will generally support the existing structure.

Other less extreme examples I can think of where a system has changed to another system would be former colonies adopting new constitutions (e.g. Ireland and Pakistan), or where there has been significant change in the country's model (e.g. South Africa). Again, you need support, but this time it is within the existing political and judicial framework.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    For another example that is foursquare on point, the UK Parliament suspended the election that would have fallen during WWII, postponing it until hostilities ended. – ohwilleke Feb 5 '18 at 20:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.