Essay on the constitutional promises of democracy and republic

AutorEneida Desiree Salgado
CargoAdjunct Professor of Constitutional Law and Election Law at Universidade Federal do Paraná (Curitiba-PR, Brazil)
Licenciado sob uma Licença Creative Commons
Licensed under Creative Commons
Como citar esse artigo/How to cite this article: SALGADO, Eneida Desiree. Essay on the constitutional promises of democracy and
republic. Revista de Investigações Constitucionais, Curitiba, vol. 4, n. 3. p. 85-100, set./dez. 2017. DOI: 10.5380/rinc.v4i3.54373.
* Adjunct Professor of Constitutional Law and Election Law at Universidade Federal do Paraná (Curitiba-PR, Brazil). Doctor in Public
Law, 2010, Universidade Federal do Paraná. E-mail:
Revista de Investigações Constitucionais
ISSN 2359-5639
DOI: 10.5380/rinc.v4i2.52523
Revista de Investigações Constitucionais, Curitiba, vol. 4, n. 3, p. 85-100, set./dez. 2017.
Essay on the constitutional promises of democracy and republic
Ensaio sobre as promessas constitucionais de democracia e república
Universidade Federal do Paraná (Brasil)
Recebido/Received: 07.08.2017 / August 7th, 2017
Aprovado/Approved: 20.08.2017 / August 20th, 2017
This essay aims at explaining what the democratic and re-
publican principles declared in the Brazilian Constitution
represent – or could represent. First, the work considers
the notion of a Constitution and its models, combined
with the concept of rule of law. The author goes further
and examines the idea of freedom, as it changes depend-
ing on the constitutional model followed, be it derived
from the French or the American Revolution. Presenting
the preoccupations of dierent experts regarding a con-
stitutional system, the essay compares their arguments
before considering the elements of the Brazilian Consti-
tution and its preamble. In this context, it is made clear
the inuence of Brazilian History in the understanding of
the meaning of democracy and republic in the country.
Furthermore, concepts such as “individual”, “citizen”, “cit-
izenship”, “government”, “equality”, “communitarianism”,
“solidarity”, “common good”, “vote”, among others, are all
presented and understood through the lenses of the Bra-
zilian Constitution and constitutional doctrine to build a
wide-ranging yet comprehensible notion of democracy
and republic in Brazil.
Keywords: Brazilian constitutionalism; democracy; re-
public; rule of law; freedom.
Este ensaio busca explicar o que os princípios de demo-
cracia e república declarados na Constituição Brasileira
representam – ou podem representar. Primeiro, o trabalho
considera a ideia de Constituição e seus modelos, combi-
nados com o conceito de Estado de Direito. A autora tam-
bém examina o preceito de liberdade, que se altera depen-
dendo do modelo constitucional seguido, seja derivado da
Revolução Francesa ou dos Estados Unidos da América. Ao
apresentar as construções de diferentes especialistas com
respeito a um sistema constitucional, o ensaio compara
seus argumentos antes de considerar os elementos da
Constituição Brasileira e seu preâmbulo. Neste contexto,
resta evidente a inuência da História Brasileira na com-
preensão do signicado de democracia e república no
país. Ainda, conceitos como “indivíduo”, “cidadão”, “direi-
tos e deveres do cidadão”, “governo”, “igualdade”, “comu-
nitarismo”, “solidariedade”, “bem comum”, “voto”, entre ou-
tros, são trabalhados e entendidos através das lentes da
Constituição Brasileira e da doutrina constitucional para
construir uma ampla e compreensível noção de democra-
cia e república no Brasil.
Palavras-chave: Constitucionalismo brasileiro; democra-
cia; república; Estado de Direito; liberdade.
Revista de Investigações Constitucionais, Curitiba, vol. 4, n. 3, p. 85-100, set./dez. 2017.
The Brazilian Constitution of 1988 establishes a democratic and republican rule
of law as a fundamental political decision1 and as a legal norm of supreme hierarchy2.
According to constituent power theory and its legal ctions, the constitution
establishes the state from the beginning, ab ovo, conguring a political framework ba-
sed on the structure of power and its limitation. This conguration is determined by the
guarantee of rights, by the organization of sovereignty among government institutions
and by the determination of ends to be pursued by both state authorities and society. 3
The notion of constitution is inextricably linked to the notion of freedom and
liberties. Its formulation in a formal document, written and protected against daily
changes, reveals the intention to protect a set of rights and guarantees, as well as de-
monstrates the establishment of the organization and functioning of the state.
Maurizio Fioravanti presents dierent theoretical models adapted to constitu-
tions derived from the French and the American Revolution and, later, the development
of the concept of rule of law in Europe. While in the French Revolution the doctrine as-
sumed freedom as individualist, statist and anti-historicist, in the American Revolution
it combined individualistic, historicist, and anti-statist elements. The rule of law, deve-
loped from the nineteenth century on, eliminates the individualist element and keeps
the combination of statist and historicist theories.4
Historicism assumes a perspective about freedoms that is originated out of the
imperative force of rights, which has been conrmed over time in history, and goes
beyond the contingent political will. The purpose of the combination with politics is to
protect historically acquired positions, so that initial legal positions are not established
based on an agreement of wills, which ignores historical rights. This conception does
not t in with the full notion of constituent power. According to the author, the indi-
vidualistic model places the individual as the holder of rights, in a way that they have
the constitutions as instruments to guarantee these rights and individual freedoms.
The state law originates from the contractualism and is the only recognized authority.
The limitation of individual rights arises from other individual rights and not from a
social demand. The constituent power is primary and fundamental. Finally, the statist
approach sees the state as a condition for the birth of rights and freedoms. The pact,
derived from the contractualist theory, substitutes the contract in a way that the state,
1 SCHMITT, Carl. Constitutional Theory. Chicago: Duke University Press, 2008. § 3.
2 KELSEN, Hans. Teoria Geral do Direito e do Estado. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2000.Chapter X.
3 For Maurice Hauriou, the formation of constitutions comes from the juridical virtue of the constituent power, combined with
the freedom of subjects and with an objective idea: “There is a foundation of power, which achieves an objective idea and from
which the citizens have taken over in conditions such that the foundation is not revocable and that power is not bound by its
own will, but by that of the subjects and by the ascendant of the objective idea”. (HAURIOU, Maurice. Principios de Derecho
Público y Constitucional. 2. ed. Madrid: Instituto Editorial Reus, 1927. p. 19.)
4 FIORAVANTI, Maurizio. Appunti di storia delle costituzioni moderne. Le libertà fondamentali. 2. ed. Torino: G. Giappichelli,
1995. p. 17.

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