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ReConFort Mid-Term Conference 2016

From 19. – 21. September 2016 the Mid-Term Conference of ReConFort was hosted at the University of Passau and at the premises of the Siemens Foundation in Munich. The topic of the conference was “On the Way to Juridifcation by Constitution – Sovereignty Issues in Constitutional History”. Besides the research team, the conference was attended by the International Advisory Board and visiting researchers from Australia, Belgium, Italy and Poland. In addition, the lectures had also been open to advanced students.

On Monday, the participants were welcomed by the President of the University of Passau Prof. Fr. Carola Jungwirth and the Dean of the Faculty of Law Prof. Dr. Hans Georg Dederer. The first day of the conference included talks by Dr. Stefan Huygebaert (Research Foundation Flanders, BE), Dr. Brecht Deseure (ReConFort, BE), Dr. Giuseppe Mecca (ReConFort, IT), Matteo Zamboni (Mailand, IT), Prof. Dr. Raf Geenens and Nora Timmermans (both Leuven, BE). The final talk of the day was given by the Principal Investigator of the ReConFort project Prof. Dr. Ulrike Müßig.
In the evening, the participants were welcomed by the Major of the Baroque city Schärding (AT) Franz Angerer and received a historic guided tour around the city by Mario Puhane. 

On Tuesday, the lectures continued with presentations by Dr. Florian Muß (Judge AG Oldenburg in Holstein, DE), Dr. Ania Tarnowska (ReConFort, PL), Dr. Marcin Byczyk (ReConFort, PL), Joachim Kummer, Franziska Meyer (both ReConFort, DE), Valerie von Poten (Student at the University of Passau) and Marius Müller (Student Assistant, Chair of Prof. Müßig, DE). Before the final talk of Dr. Bodie Ashton (Adelaide, AU), Armin Gerl (ReConFort, Chair of Prof. Kosch, DE) introduced the audience to the upcoming ReConFort Open Access Database. 

On Wednesday, the last day of the conference, the participants headed to Nymphenburg Castle in Munich and received a guided tour around the Nymphenburg gardens by Marius Müller, focusing on architecture as form of constitutional communication. After lunch, all participants were welcomed at the premises of the Siemens Foundation.
As instrumental introduction Barbara Blumenstingl and Prof. Dr. Ulrike Müßig presented different transverse flute songs before the finals talks of the conference were given by Dr. John Allison (Fellow of Queens’ College Cambridge) – “The Westminster Parliament’s Formal Sovereignty in Britain and Europe from a Historical Perspective” and Prof. Dr. Luigi Lacchè (Rector of the University of Macerata and Member of the ReConFort Advisory Board) – “The Sovereignty Dispute in a European Perspective. Force, Reason or Constitution”.
The conference ended with a reception hosted by the Siemens foundation, providing the possibility for further talks and discussion on the topics of the last days.

The next ReConFort conference will be held at Toruń, Poland in February 2018.

Gallery

Publication "Reconsidering Constitutional Formation I National Sovereignty"

Abstract

The Research project ReConFort, dealing with communication dependencies of historic constitutions, reconsiders the national constitutional discourses of the 19th century. Following the key category national sovereignty as tertium comparationis it became clear, that it was a distinctive feature of the 19th c.-Europe to loose ‘national borders’ and to accumulate the historic constitutional debates around central topoi and in cross-border correspondances of protagonists. So far we have identified the topoi national/constitutional sovereignty, precedence of constitution, accountability of politics and the judiciary as constituted power.

The volume includes essays of the PI and the Post-Docs:

  • Juridification by Constitution. National Sovereignty in the 18th and 19th c. Europe
    by Ulrike Müßig
  • National sovereignty in the Belgian Constitution of 1831. On the meaning(s) of article 25
    by Brecht Deseure
  • The Omnipotence of Parliament in the legitimisation process of ‘representative government’ during the Albertine Statute (1848-1861)
    by Giuseppe Mecca
  • Sovereignty Issue in the Public Discussion in the Era of the Polish 3rd of May Constitution
    by Anna Tarnowska

Furthermore , it provides the first English translation of the Statute "Our free Royal Cities in the States of Rzeczpospolita".

The open access version is available here:

Reconsidering Constitutional Formation I National Sovereignty - A Comparative Analysis of the Juridification by Constitution

Product Flyer of the Book

ReConFort Open Access Database

Preview of the publication "Reconsidering Constitutional Formation I National Sovereignty"

Abstract

The Research project ReConFort, dealing with communication dependencies of historic constitutions, reconsiders the national constitutional discourses of the 19th century. Following the key category national sovereignty as tertium comparationis it became clear, that it was a distinctive feature of the 19th c.-Europe to loose ‘national borders’ and to accumulate the historic constitutional debates around central topoi and in cross-border correspondances of protagonists. So far we have identified the topoi national/constitutional sovereignty, precedence of constitution, accountability of politics and the judiciary as constituted power.

For example, national sovereignty is cross-borderly used to explain a legal starting point of the constituting process. All references to national sovereignty mark the process of juridification of sovereignty by means of the constitution, i.e. political legitimation is turned into legal legitimation. In the Polish May Constitution 1791 national sovereignty formulates a compromise between the old aristocratic noblemen’ privileges and liberal ideas of representation. The procedural openness of this historuic constitution can be seen as a reflex onto juridification of sovereignty. National sovereignty in the Spanish Cádiz Constitution 1812 is connected to the anti-Napoleonic context of the constitutional process. The general and extraordinary Cortes’ claim to the constituent power by virtue of the recourse to national sovereignty is influenced by late scholastical concepts and combines the supralegal limitations for the royal government with the historical legitimization of the Cádiz constitution by the old fundamental laws of the Monarchy (las antiguas leyes fundamentales de la Monarquía). The constituent sovereignty in the Norwegian Grunnloven May 1814 is in various aspects comparable with the Spanish case: the constitutional process was received as guarantee of national independence. The Moss Process into the Swedish Union under the Fundamental Law of the Norwegian Empire of November 4, 1814 demonstrates the Extraordinary Storting as Constituent Assembly and the monarchy as constituted power. The reference to authority (l’autorité tout entière) in the preamble of the French Charte Constitutionelle 1814 permits the prerevolutionary subsumption as divine right. The monarch by the Grace of God Louis XVIII appears as constituent sovereign, the label as charter (charte) tries to create the impression of a royal privilege. The constitutional configuration of the monarch’s position as the sole bearer of executive power (Art. 13), of the exclusive right of legislative initiative (Art. 45, 46) and of jurisdiction (Art. 57) was imitated numerously until 1830, including its intrinsic systematic incompatibilities (between the monarchical principle and parliament’s legislative and budgetary rights). Its revolutionary overcoming in the French July Revolution 1830 led to a European-wide constitutional movement, whose connection with national struggles for freedom, invigorated the people and its representation as constitutional factors. Like in France, a parliament took over the task of drafting the Constitution of Belgium 1831, which unlike the French model was not negotiated with the monarch, but freely proclaimed by a national congress in its own right. In the octroi of the Piedmontese Statuto Albertino 1848, the constituent act of granting the fundamental law (statuto fondamentale) was communicated to maintain the plenitudo potestatis of the absolute monarchy, to rationalize the old royal sacredness. Such a coincidence of the monarchical sovereignty in its absoluteness with the granting of the Albertine Statute was meant to avoid any scope for the differentiation between pouvoir constituant and pouvoir constitué. The improvised parliamentarism in the constitutional debates of the Frankfurt National Assembly 1848/49 corresponded with the openness of the “Sovereignty of the Nation” whereby Heinrich von Gagern inaugurated the Paulskirchen-assembly. This avowal to the singular and unlimited pouvoir constituant of a not existant German nation could not make sense as a programmatic claim to self-government, but reflected the indecisiveness of the European post-kantian liberalism between monarchical and popular sovereignty. 

Summer meeting in Passau

From the 4th to the 7th of august the ReConFort team has met again at the University of Passau. The participants from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain discussed the results already achieved and the future steps to take.

Each of the post-docs presented the results and the problems being found during the work in the past months. The following discussion under the direction of the principal investigator Prof. Dr. Müßig focused on solutions and new ideas for each country and the historical archival work.

On Monday, the research team was introduced to the president and the chancellor of the University of Passau, Prof. Dr. Burkhardt Freitag and Dr. Andrea Bör, to whom they presented the project.

The upcoming ReConFort database was the main topic on Tuesday. Stella Stars presented a first draft of the structure of database which then was discussed by the whole group. In the evening the ReConFort team and the team of the chair of Civil Law, German and European Legal History met for a barbecue at the shores of the river Inn and used the occasion the get to know each other. The meeting was also visited by padre Tangen who, together with the Marist fathers, has been supporting the research project from the first day on, accommodating the post-docs during their stays in Passau.

On the last day of the meeting the group was visited by Prof. Kittisak Prokati from the Thammasat University (Bangkok, Thailand) and was given a presentation by Marie-Charlotte Riehl on the concept of sovereignty during the period of the provisional government in France 1814.

 

 

Portrait of Prof. Müßig (BR-alpha)

The german TV-channel BR-alpha has broadcasted a portrait of Prof. Müßig and her work as principal investigator in the ReConFort project on the 17th of June 2014.

The video "ERC grant holder Prof. Dr. Müßig" can be wachted here:

http://www.ardmediathek.de/tv/alpha-Campus/ERC-Preistr%C3%A4gerin-Prof-Dr-Ulrike-M%C3%BC%C3%9F/BR-alpha/Video?documentId=21866054&bcastId=14912932

 

 

Kick-off meeting in Passau

A road map to a new understanding of constitution

An euphoric mood dominates after the end of the five day meeting in the conference room at the third floor of the Juridicum in Passau. There, the ReConFort project (Reconsidering Constitutional Formation, Constitutional Communication by Drafting, Practice and Interpretation in 18th and 19th Century Europe) officially started in March 2014 under the supervision of Prof. Ulrike Müßig. For five days, the scientists Katrin Brösicke (Humboldt University Berlin), Brecht Deseure (Free University of Brussels), Guiseppe Mecca (University of Macerata), Antonio Sánchez-Aranda (University of Granada), Ania Tarnowska (Nicolaus-Copernicus University of Toruń), and the members of the advisory board (Prof. Dr. Ignacio Czeghun and Prof. Dr. Harald Kosch) had the opportunity to debate the first steps on the way to a new understanding of the European constitutional history. In the end, there shall be the answer to the question, how the constitutional discourse was generated in 18th and 19th century.

The visit of the cathedral site office at Passau, which lead the team at the top of the St. Stephan's cathedral of Passau, already indicated, that the scientists want to attain high results.

The debates of the kick-off meeting focused on the “communicative power” of a constitution. Given the filter-function of a constitution between politics and law the value-driven terms of constitutions cannot be considered fixed at any time. Their legal interpretation only succeeds in correspondence with the range of historical experience, which has been translated into constitutional language. There are always socio-historical circumstances, in which the protagonists use the historical consensus of the leading class for claiming a legal “first beginning”. Therefore, a better understanding of the interrelations between constitution and “discourse” is the core center of ReConFort.

At the end of the kick-off meeting the ReConFort team members agreed to start with a profound study and systematic analysis of constitutional documents in combination with reflective documents of acting political stakeholders and documents of a wider private and public constitutional “discourse”. The targeted approach will be three-staged: A. – Constitutions and materials (constitutional drafts or official stenographic records of constitutional debates) have to be assessed, collected, digitalised and finally edited including an English translation (of key sources). B. – Relevant cross-border private correspondences of protagonists upon constitutional affairs will be discovered (as mainly inedited or even unknown), collected, translated and analysed. C. – Publicist activities of major constitutional protagonists (including exile literature) and regional/national and cross-border constitutional journalism in public media.