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The Politics of Presidential Term Limits$
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Alexander Baturo and Robert Elgie

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198837404

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198837404.001.0001

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Term Limits and the Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment Doctrine

Term Limits and the Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment Doctrine

Lessons from Latin America

(p.53) 4 Term Limits and the Unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment Doctrine
The Politics of Presidential Term Limits

David Landau

Yaniv Roznai

Rosalind Dixon

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the interaction between term limit provisions and the unconstitutional constitutional amendment doctrine in Latin America. It illustrates the varied approaches of courts concerning the validity of attempts to amend presidential term limits. In Colombia, the Constitutional Court intervened to prevent what it saw as an undue easing of term limits (after permitting one round of easing); in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia, courts generally allowed attempts to ease or eliminate term limit using less demanding rather than more demanding procedural routes; and in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Bolivia, judiciaries deployed the unconstitutional constitutional amendment doctrine in order to eliminate rather than to protect term limits. After mapping the major constitutional decisions issued on this issue in Latin America in recent years, the authors argue that transnational anchoring holds some promise in clarifying the proper scope of control of constitutional change regarding term limits.

Keywords:   term limits, unconstitutional constitutional amendment doctrine, judicial review of constitutional amendments, Latin America, constitutions, democracy, courts, transnational anchoring, eternity clauses, abusive constitutionalism

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