POLS461 Constitutional Conflicts, Crises and the Path to Civil Wars


The course focuses on the crisis of the modern nation state and, more specifically, the constitutional state. We will examine both conceptual-theoretical and empirical aspects of constitutional crises. Numerous examples will be given and some of the more dramatic cases of collapse of the constitutional state will be studied: the collapse of Yugoslavia, the risk of disintegration of Ukraine, Macedonia, the European Union. Cases of secession will also be examined such as Catalonia, Crimea, Scotland and Belgium, etc. Special attention will be paid to modern civil wars.

We will develop an interpretation of the modern constitution as intrinsically political and will attempt to see it as a political form. On this view the constitution is a field of political struggles in an essential way, that is in a way that can never end. The course aims to disclose some hidden conflictual dimensions of the constitutions in the two most important dimensions of constitutions as are the division of powers and realm of human rights. The constitutions in all their varieties, be they written or not, will be presented as a form of the political file of a community. Hence, the road to conflicts, crises, and civil wars will be open up.

The introductory lectures will define and clarify the phenomenon of the constitution. They will place special emphasis on the internal conflictual dimensions of the constitution. Some tense political debates relevant to the liberal-democratic idea will also be presented: death penalty, abortion, soft drugs, euthanasia, LGBT issues, etc.

The structure of all lectures and discussions will include some theoretical, although fairly simple parts, and many examples of present cases, events, conflicts, war situations, etc. The last several lectures and discussions will entirely concentrate on recent cases, such as the EU’s constitutional project, the Yugoslav civil wars in the 1990s, various secession attempts, etc.

Although this is not a requirement, students will be kindly invited to give short presentations on major constitutional arguments, conflicts and other issues from the political contexts of their own countries.

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Politics and Society (in English)


Prof. Evgenii Dainov, PhD

Course Description:


No other prerequisites except general courses in political science.
No other prerequisites except general courses in political science.

Full-time Programmes

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