Over the last 25 years a number of emerging democracies in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia have engaged in constitutional reforms. There is a widespread assumption that constitutional reforms improve governance, but the links are not well understood. Taking management of public finances as a proxy for governance in general, the speaker sought to clarify the link between constitutional reform and fiscal policy outcomes, such as fiscal discipline and equity. Given their intricate relationship, the conundrum is why governance dynamics unleashed by constitutional reform have helped some countries achieve greater fiscal discipline and fiscal equity yet have been relatively ineffective in other countries.
Bjoern Dressel is pursuing a Ph.D. in international political economy at SAIS. He has worked as a research associate for the Institute for European Law at the University of Trier in Germany; as a consultant at the World Bank; and at Chemonics International. Bjoern is a former governance fellow at various research institutions in Thailand, the Philippines, Ghana and South Africa. He is also the author of “Strengthening Governance through Constitutional Reform” in The Governance Brief published by the Asian Development Bank and co-author of “Facing the Perils of Presidentialism” in the Journal of Democracy. His research interests include comparative constitutional reform, political economy and the governance of public finance in emerging markets. Bjoern received his J.D. from the University of Trier.