Western European constitutions have been influenced by three broad and overlapping political traditions. These are loosely termed ‘liberalism’, ‘republicanism’ and ‘communitarianism’. Each emphasises a different aspect of human nature and privileges different values. Liberalism, although relatively modern, is the dominant tradition. It is based on the notions of individual freedom and limited government. It assumes that the individual is the best judge of how he or she should live and that the state should not prefer one way of life over another. It therefore concentrates on limiting the power of the state.
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