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Is the South African Constitution considered exceptionally democratic?

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lorindasmith | High School Teacher | Honors

Posted August 21, 2012 at 1:46 PM via web

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Is the South African Constitution considered exceptionally democratic?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 21, 2012 at 7:07 PM (Answer #1)

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The South African Constitution focuses more on positive rights than on negative rights; i.e., focusing on rights that people have, rather than rights that they do not have. It is also a more modern document, allowing it to bypass the constant amendment process of older documents. Legal scholar Cass Sunstein called it ""the most admirable constitution in the history of the world." Its major asset is its Bill of Rights, which has been compiled from generations of previous documents as well as the examples of other countries such as the United States. By focusing on the equality of people regardless of their background, heritage, and color, the Constitution is able to avoid issues of selective allowances (separation of rights based on any single trait). It also makes concessions to the many languages spoken in South Africa, allowing people to retain their cultural heritage rather than trying to homogenize the overall culture. This is seen as culturally aware. Another factor is the focus on socio-economic rights, which are deemed crucial to repairing and renewing a society damaged by Apartheid; these areas are increasingly seen as essential by countries around the world.

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