Pasquale Pasquino

(Naples, 1948) is Senior Fellow at the CNRS in Paris and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. He studied classical philology, philosophy and political theory in Naples and Paris I-Sorbonne. Before joining the CNRS and NYU he worked at the Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte – Göttingen, at the Collège de France – Paris (Histoire des systèmes de pensée) and at King’s College – Cambridge. He published notably a book on Emmanuel Sieyes and the invention of modern constitutionalism in France and numerous articles on the history and theory of state and constitution in Germany, France, England and Italy.

Research Project

Divided power. Constitutional adjudication in contemporary democracies


I will be working on the role of constitutional courts in European democracies. On the old continent (like in the US) citizens live under political regimes characterized by a complex structure. Not only do super-national institutions overlap and sometimes conflict with the competences of member-states,  but the nature itself of democracy underwent an important transformation since the Second World War. Furthermore, competitive elections and new institutions, such as  (quasi-) sovereign parliaments, play an important role. Non-elected and non- accountable officials are able to interpret, modify and occasionally cancel legal decisions passed by elected parliaments using majority rule. Constitutional democracy is a new form of mixed regime where the hierarchy of norms and the control of it by court-like organs have replaced the ancient form of mixed government where social forces checked each other.

The research will focus on three connected questions: the historical origin of the constitutional courts in Europe, the mechanisms of access to the constitutional courts and their impact on the political system, and a justificatory theory of this form of government, constitutional democracy.

The focus will be essentially on Germany, Italy and France, but elements of a larger comparative perspective will be included in the research project. The most important concepts necessary for the accomplishment of such an enquiry will be discussed: from majority rule to constitutional rigidity, from the hierarchy of norms to the concept of constitution itself. A section of the research will be devoted to the constitutional debates in the Weimar republic concerning the contemporary origins of the debate on guardianship of the constitution.