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Has a coup d'état ever left a constitution untouched?

  1. Sep 7, 2014 #1
    I've been reading about different coup d'état across history, but haven't been able to find one in which a country's constitution is left untouched. Most of them automatically void constitutions and implant new ones after finishing. Leaving citizens with barely any rights during it.

    Has there ever been one in which a country's constitution was left untouched [STRIKE]and citizens could still claim their rights during it[/STRIKE] after the events? All I find is constitutions responding to the new government regime and not the citizens.

    edit: I actually mean after. Its obvious that during you cannot claim any rights since those who are supposed to defend your rights are fighting.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2014 #2


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    Most countries don't have or didn't have constitutions in the modern sense, and written ones are a relatively recent innovation. In a lot of countries with a written constitution, there is no guarantee that the document can be used to assert or protect personal rights against the state. After all, the Soviet Union had three different written constitutions over 75 years, for what little good they did for the average Soviet citizen.


    Still, if the political situation in a country with a constitution got so bad that a coup became a viable alternative to changing the political situation, it would make little sense to continue using the old constitution after the coup. Obviously, a significant portion of the population involved in fomenting the coup felt their interests were not being served or protected by the status quo ante, so why go back and continue using the old constitution?
  4. Sep 14, 2014 #3
    Sorry for late reply. It wasn't until your explanation but it makes sense now.
  5. Oct 3, 2014 #4


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    The Nazis had little interest in such things as Constitutions and never abolished the Weimar Constitution, they merely
    overrode or ignored it. Key provisions were a sort of emergency legislation called the Reichstag Fire Decree and a the Enabling Act which allowed essentially arbitrary rule, suspension of all rights e.g. press, labor unions, arbitrary arrest and authorised rule without the Reichstag, whose non-Nazi members were arrested or fled. Likewise existing institutions like German law and administration were used here or ignored and bypassed there, arbitrariness was the name of the game, the 'system' was quite chaotic. For instance no law or official decree set up the concentration camps, they just somehow happened. The "will of the Fuehrer" was of course absolute, but as he was usually too lazy and disorganised to express one it was often in practice the will of anyone who could plausibly make it believed that he was expressing it. This characteristic and paucity of paper traces made it possible afterwards for apologists to try and absolve him from grave responsibility for the holocaust.
  6. Oct 3, 2014 #5


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    Technically, the Nazis never staged a coup to obtain power: German Pres. Paul v. Hindenburg appointed Hitler chancellor and asked him to form a government under his (Hindenburg's) power as specified in the Weimar constitution, which government was sworn in Jan. 30, 1933. For a few weeks after his appointment as chancellor, Hitler served as the head of a coalition between the NSDAP and Hindenburg's German National People's Party (DNVP). Hitler then urged Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag and set new parliamentary elections for March 1933.

    In the meantime, the Reichstag burned on Feb. 27, 1933, and Hitler used the pretext of this fire to pursuade Hindenburg to issue the Reichstag Fire Decree the next day. This decree suspended basic rights and allowed detention without trial. Armed with this decree, the Nazis began rounding up their political opponents wholesale. As Minister for the Interior of Prussia in Hitler's government, Hermann Goering had already started to replace key police officials in the intelligence and political departments with Nazi party members, and, separating these departments from the rest of the police organization, Goering created the basic functions of the Gestapo.

    Because the Reichstag Fire Decree led to the detention of so many, special camps, concentration camps, were set up. The first one, at Dachau, was personally ordered set up by Heinrich Himmler in March 1933.

    The new parliamentary elections were held March 6, and the Nazis won less than 44% of the vote, still not enough to form a majority government. Again, the Nazis formed a coalition government with the DNVP, and Hitler introduced the infamous Enabling Act in the new Reichstag soon after it was seated on March 21. A vote was scheduled for March 23 which required a two-thirds majority for passage. Hitler cut a deal with the head of the Center Party to vote for the act, and used the powers of the Reichstag Fire Decree to exclude or ban outright members of the Reichstag opposed to the Nazis. The Enabling Act passed handily, and the Nazis were firmly set in power in Germany, although they had never won a majority of seats in previous elections. A de facto dictatorship had been established by skillful use of existing constitutional provisions, without the need for a coup d'etat.
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