This introductory chapter presents the key issues to be examined in the book, in particular the tension between the claim that governmental power is generated from the ‘consent of the people’ and the claim that for such power to be effective, it must be divided, constrained, and exercised through distinctive institutional forms. It explains that the essays that follow are divided into three main sections. Part I considers the historical emergence of the idea of constituent power in modern European thought and practice. Part II examines a range of theoretical perspectives on the nature of the relationship. Part III evaluates the continuing importance and (possible) reconfiguration of this relationship in the light of a series of contemporary issues of a constitutional nature. An overview of the key themes developed in these essays is provided.
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