Difference Between Rigid Constitutions and Flexible Constitutions (with Examples)
Under types of constitutions, we classify constitutions on the basis of the ease with which the constitution can be amended. On the basis of this criterion, we have rigid and flexible constitutions.
This chapter covers the definition, types, sources, features and scope of constitution.
Subject – Government & Politics – Study Guides
Rigid Constitution vs Flexible Constitution | Differences
- Rigid constitutions are are mostly written and very difficult to amend wile flexible constitution may be written or unwritten and it is easy to amend.
- The procedure for amendments of a rigid constitution is a complicated method while the amendment of flexible constitution can easily be done by a simple majority in the legislature.
- The provision of rigid constitution cannot be easily manipulated because there is a procedure legally laid down for its amendments. The provisions of the flexible constitution on the other hand can easily be manipulated by a powerful leader.
- Rigid constitutions are resistant to change and innovations while changes and innovations and flexible constitution can easily be brought in.
- In rigid constitutions, the rights of individuals are enhanced and not subject to arbitrary change while fundamental rights of citizens may be infringed upon and this may increase the fears of the minorities in flexible constitution.
- Rigid constitutions are suitable for a federal set-up, this is because the rights of autonomy of the units are enhanced and respected and decisions are based on consensus. But flexible constitution is not suitable for a federal set up – this is because the rights of autonomy of some of the units may be jeopardized by some radical reforms.
- Rigid constitution ensure political stability since issues about political power and aquisition are clearly defined in the constitution while flexible constitutions‘ political stability is not as pronounced as in the rigid constitutions. Because, issues about governance are not clearly defined.
- Written constitutions may not suitable in time of emergencies while flexible constitutions are suitable because of its ease amendments.
- In rigid constitutions, there is no room for arbitrary rule or group dominance while arbitrary government is possible in a flexible constitution.
These are constitutions that are difficult to amend or change. Special procedures and conditions are required for such constitutions to be amended, since normal procedure for passing an ordinary law is not sufficient.
I should let you know that these procedures or conditions vary from one country to the other and are usually stated in the constitution itself. In general, federal political systems like United States, Switzerland, and Canada, India, Australia, and Nigeria have rigid constitutions.
For example in Nigeria, the 1979 and 1999 constitutions require two-thirds of the members of both National and state legislatures to endorse a bill or motion asking for constitutional amendment. In Switzerland and Australia, the electorates are allowed to participate in the amendment process.
This is the constitution that is easily amendable through an ordinary law
making process. In other words, a flexible constitution can be changed
without any lengthy or difficult process to revise it. Examples of countries with flexible constitutions include New Zealand, Finland, Britain and Ghana in the First Republic.