Constitutional amendment process


There are two different methods of amending
a constitution and these are:
(i) Rigid Constitution

(ii) Flexible constitution.

        Constitutions should have the ability to change with time and circumstances. Classification of constitutions, therefore, is dependent on the method of amendment.

       A rigid constitution is defined as one that is very difficult to amend or change. It requires a special process or a complicated method before it can be amended or changed. Most written constitutions are rigid. U.S.A., Ghana, Nigeria (Second Republic Constitution of 1979/83 and Fourth Republic Constitution of 1999-2003,
Australia etc has rigid constitutions.

Rigid constitutions are of four types:
1. Where the legislature could be involved in
Some constitutional amendment with some restrictions and at the same time may go through the electorate (referendum) before adoption.

2. Secondly, the method by which the consent
of the majority of the voters is needed for
constitutional amendment.

3. Final decision is undertaken by the majority
of the component units or regions in a federal
set up. For example, 3/4 of the majority of
states in the U.S.A are needed for such

4. The development of new customs in the
the course of time or final decisions in the hands
of an outside authority, e.g. leaving such
the decision to the sovereign in parliament in

       Advantages of a rigid constitution
1. Enhancement of individuals rights: These
rights are not subject to arbitrary change by
the government. Adequate consideration is
mostly given to the people when a change is

2. Political stability: It makes way for political
stability in a country. This is because of the laid down procedure for constitutional

3. Reduction of violent or revolutionary
intentions: It reduced violence or revolutionary intention to the barest minimum.

4. It is a check: Rigid method of amendment is
a check against rash and hasty decisions.
Issues have to be properly examined before
actions are taken on them.

5. It serves as a restraint: Rigid constitution
restrains or prevents unscrupulous politicians from manipulating the constitution to
achieve selfish or sectional ends.

       Disadvantages of a rigid constitution
1. Delay to rapid growth: It is a delay to
rapid growth and development. A cross-
section of the citizens is consulted before
amendments are made or introduced.

2. Abuse of rights: The democratic rights of
the people may be abused or trampled

3. Complicated method of amendment: The
method of amendment is complicated and
so cannot be reasonably adopted in times of
4. Innovations: Rigid constitutions are resistant to change and innovation.

5. Slow economic growth: The amendment
of a rigid constitution may lead to slow
economic growth and development.

           Flexible constitution
Definition: It is defined as the type of constitution that is easy to amend. If the method of amending the constitution is the same as that of the passing of ordinary law, the constitution is said to be flexible. Again, the amendment can easily be done by a simple majority in the legislature.
Britain, Italy, etc, have a flexible constitution.
However, a flexible constitution may be written
Or unwritten, It is, however, opposite in some
ways to the rigid constitution. The constitutions o 
Great Britain and Italy are not written but are
flexible constitutions.

        Merits of a Flexible constitution
1. It can easily be changed: This is easily
done to meet with fresh and unforeseen

2. Decision-making: It helps the government to
take quick action or decision.

3. Introduction of new laws: Obsolete laws
can easily be replaced with new ones.
lt can easily meet with people’s need:
The needs and aspiration of the people can
easily be met because of the ease in amending the constitution.

       Demerits of a Flexible constitution
1. Manipulation: The provisions of the constitution can easily be manipulated by a
powerful leader.

2. Unsuitable for a federal set-up: This is
because the rights of autonomy of some
states may be jeopardized by some radical

3. Rights of individuals: Fundamental rights
of individuals may be infringed upon and
may increase the fears of the minority and
inter-ethnic disharmony.

4. Different interests and opinions: Different
interests and opinions may not be promoted
but could be suppressed.

5. Sectional interest: A section of the coun-
try can use its influence or position to
amend the constitution to achieve sectional

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