What Is a Plan That Provides the Rules for Government?

The constitution of a nation is the set of rules that governs how a government can exercise power. The constitution usually allocates different powers to various institutions and determines how they should exercise their powers. It is important to have rules that regulate how a government exercises its power because a government is usually the most powerful coercive force within a country.

The oldest written national constitution is that of the United States, which was written in 1787. According to the UCL Constitution Unit, as of 2014, there has been renewed interest in constitutions by both academicians and policy makers in most countries. Constitutions provide the foundations for most governments and they are closely linked to the provision of public goods. Outcomes such as democracy, economic growth and human rights protection are all associated with the constitutions of most countries. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that most people blame their constitutions for the economic or social problems in their countries and that such issues usually lead to constitutional changes.

There is a strict divide between the functions of a constitution and its form. The functions of a constitution refer to the elements such as laws that perform constitutional functions, while its form usually refers to the formal written charter.