Constitutional indices

Constitutional Toolkit

Below is a list of indices use to compare constitutions on the CONSTITUTE site (see the Constitutional Indices section on the CONSTITUTE site for a more detailed description of the indices):

Scope. It measures the percentage of 70 major topics from the Comparative Constitutions Project (CCP) coding survey that are included in any given constitution.

Length (in Words). This is simply a report of the total number of words in the constitution as measured by Microsoft Word.

Executive Power. This is an additive index that ranges from 0-7 and captures the presence or absence of seven important aspects of executive lawmaking: (1) the power to initiate legislation; (2) the power to issue decrees; (3) the power to initiate constitutional amendments; (4) the power to declare states of emergency; (5) veto power; (6) the power to challenge the constitutionality of legislation; and (7) the power to dissolve the legislature. The index score indicates the total number of these powers given to any national executive (president, prime minister, or assigned to the government) as a whole.

Legislative Power. This captures the formal degree of power assigned to the legislature by the constitution. The index score is the mean of 32 binary variables, with higher numbers indicating more legislative power and lower numbers indicating less legislative power.

Judicial Independence. It is an additive index ranging from 0-6 that captures the constitutional presence or absence of six features thought to enhance judicial independence. The six features are: (1) whether the constitution contains an explicit statement of judicial independence; (2) whether the constitution provides that judges have lifetime appointments; (3) whether appointments to the highest court involve either a judicial council or two (or more) actors; (4) whether removal is prohibited or limited so that it requires the proposal of a supermajority vote in the legislature, or if only the public or judicial council can propose removal and another political actor is required to approve such a proposal; (5) whether removal is explicitly limited to crimes and other issues of misconduct, treason, or violations of the constitution; and (6) whether judicial salaries are protected from reduction.

Judicial Power. It is an additive index ranging from 0-6 that captures six features: (1) whether the constitution provides for judicial review; (2) whether courts have the power to supervise elections; (3) whether any court has the power to declare political parties unconstitutional; (4) whether judges play a role in removing the executive, for example in impeachment; (5) whether any court has any ability to review declarations of emergency; and (6) whether any court has the power to review treaties.

Number of Rights. This index indicates the number of rights found in any particular constitution from among a set of 117 different rights found in national constitutions.

Detail. It measures the average number of words per topic in the constitution; it is calculated by dividing Length (see above) by the number of topics captured in Scope.

Words About Rights. The number of words in the rights section of the constitution, as measured by Microsoft Word. If rights are not included in a separate section, the measure is approximate.