Printer Frendly Version

Constitutional Limits on Government: Study Questions

Suggested Review Questions and Activities

Teachers: The following are questions and activities that can be given to your students after they read the materials in each section. The questions are meant to be asked as a review exercise, although some encourage critical thinking as well. The activities can be presented as classroom exercises or as individual homework assignments. Unlike the questions, they tend to require additional research. Some call for students to create mock trials or debates that would engage the entire class. Both the questions and the activities are formatted so that they might be used directly by students, although you may rewrite them as you feel necessary.

Essential Principles

Questions

What constitutional model offers the best foundation for limited government? Is one any better or worse than another?

If absolutism and totalitarianism offer clear negative reasons for establishing limited government, what are some positive reasons?

Activity

Search the country studies in other sections for different examples and lessons in constitutionalism. Which countries have established stable constitutions with separation of powers, checks and balances, and other forms of accountability? Which haven't? Make a list comparing them.

France

Question

Does France's strong presidency pose threats to democratic rule? What protections exist to prevent the arrogation of powers by the French president?

Activity

Refer to the Freedom in the World survey overview. What other prominent issue in the last five years has involved constitutional limits on power?

Guatemala

Question

Why did President Serrano's 1993 attempt to seize power fail?

Activity

Are Guatemala's current constitutional safeguards sufficient to prevent the return of dictatorship? Examine Guatemala's constitution in light of its recent political events (for example, the 2003 demonstrations in Guatemala City). Do you see any areas that might be problematic?

Uzbekistan

Question

What constitutional limits prevent democratic governments from using indiscriminate or excessive force in cases of civil unrest, as Karimov did in Andijon? What limits exist in international law?

Activity

Study the political relationship between the Soviet Union and Uzbekistan. What lasting influence has the Soviet Union had on Uzbekistan? What makes Uzbekistan today similar to a communist dictatorship? In what ways is Uzbekistan different from a communist dictatorship?