Premature Predictions of Multiculturalism?

The late twentieth century ushered in a renewed interest in constitutional democracy as Latin American states revised earlier constitutions and post-Communist countries in Eastern Europe wrote new constitutions to reflect their democratic aspirations. Processes of constitution-making continued throughout the 1990s with new constitutions emerging in states throughout Africa, Latin America, and Europe. The rejuvenation of constitution-making also renewed scholarly interest in comparative constitutionalism. Scholars investigating constitution-making processes in Eastern Europe and Africa soon developed theories on how these processes and the contents of national constitutions changed in the late twentieth century. Donna Lee Van Cott contributes to the new literature on comparative constitutionalism by focusing on the constitutional movement that swept through Latin America in the 1990s. Specifically, Van Cott suggests that Latin American countries contributed to the new era of constitutionalism by developing multicultural constitutions (p. 3). The basic aim of her project is to create a model to explain when states decide to create multicultural constitutions. She demonstrates the validity of her model by applying it to the most recent Colombian and Bolivian constitutions. She argues that the convergence of crises of representation, participation, and legitimation. prompts political elites to perceive constitutional revision as essential (p. 8). Then, political elites engage in constitutional transformations that split from the liberal tradition and produce multicultural constitutions.