Montesquieu Institute
Research institutes

Montesquieu Institute

The Montesquieu Institute Maastricht is a research centre dedicated to European and comparative parliamentary studies. Montesquieu's 'formula' for the organisation of a sustainable and democratic society has to a large extent determined the organisation of many 'modern' parliamentary democracies. However, this formula provides some challenging questions: is it still applicable nowadays? One of the objectives of the inter-university Montesquieu Institute is to stimulate both Dutch and foreign scientiok for answers to this kind of questions. It is a collaboration between, amongst others, UM, Leiden University and the University of Groningen.


The Montesquieu Institute Maastricht focuses on parliamentary systems of government in Europe and in the European Union, on aspects of separation of power, democracy and the rule of law and human rights. The Institute’s aim is to contribute to the academic and public debate on democracy and governance in the European Union and its member-states by deepening the understanding of the constitutional structures and political practice of national systems of parliamentary government and rule of law and democracy. It takes a thoroughly comparative approach to parliamentary studies in a European context and analyses national systems in a vertical multi-layered perspective.

With its focus, the constitutional law research is well suited to the faculty and university themes related to globalisation, Europeanisation and comparative law, as laid down in the two research pillars about Global Justice and Institutional Transformation.

 Visit Montesquieu's research 


Montesquieu’s research mainly takes place in the following pillars:
1. Global Justice
2. Institutional Transformations


Montesquieu news

More news items
  • PhD thesis written by Sofie Wolf.
    A legal comparison between the Dutch and the German parliament in EU affairs. The purpose of this dissertation is to compare the activities of the Dutch and German parliament in EU affairs. 

  • law_prashant sabharwal - Phd thesis

    Conflict or Concord?

    PhD thesis written by Prashant Sabharwal.
    The Jurisprudential Response of the National Constitutional Courts of Germany, France and the United Kingdom to the Primacy Doctrine of the Court of Justice of the European Union from 2005 to 2015 – and the Lessons to be Learnt.

  • This publication is only in Dutch.
    Staatsrecht begrepen is een gestructureerde en systematische inleiding in het Nederlandse staatsrecht. Lichamen, organen, bevoegdheden, wetgeving, de verhouding regering en parlement, rechtspraak, grondrechten, bestuur, decentralisatie, de doorwerking van EU-recht en van internationaal recht worden beschreven en uiteengezet. 

  • This volume is part of a research project on populism and democracy conducted at Maastricht University, Faculty of Law, and funded by the Statesman Thorbecke Fund at the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences (knaw).

  • The conference 'Populism and Democracy' brings together scholars of constitutional law and political science from around the world to discuss the influence of populist politics on constitutional developments, the reasons for success or failure of constitutional defences, and potential ways out of the global crisis of liberal democracy. The conference will take place on Friday, 24 April 2020 at UM Campus Brussels.

  • The Faculties of Law of Airlangga University in Surabaya and Maastricht University, the Netherlands, in collaboration with the Maastricht School of Management (MSM) have been awarded a grant under the Orange Knowledge Programme to embark on the important mission of strengthening skills, ethics, and integrity in Indonesian legal education. This newsletter aims to provide you with the latest update on the project.

  • Comparative Constitutional Law Documents contains a selection of constitutions and fundamental legislative instruments from five Western democracies: the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. 

  • Constitutions compared

    The 5th edition of this handbook provides a user-friendly introduction to comparative constitutional law. For each area of constitutional law, a general introduction and a comparative overview is provided, which is then followed by more detailed country chapters on that specific area. The author has expanded several chapters to provide for even more detail on national legal systems and constitutional comparison.

  • Dutch only.
    Heeft de Nederlandse democratie en rechtsstaat groot, achterstallig onderhoud nodig, of blijft het beperkt tot kruimelwerk? Zorgt het advies van Staatscommissie Remkes voor te hoge constitutionele verwachtingen? Dit is de vraag die centraal staat in de nieuwste bundel van het Montesquieu Instituut die op 3 juli werd uitgereikt aan minister Ollongren van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties.

  • As part of our series Maastricht, reflecting on Europe, Aalt Willem Heringa, professor of (Comparative) Constitutional and Administrative Law, calls for more powers to the European Parliament.

  • We are happy to report that a large project, Indonesia legal education and legal society, under NUFFIC’s Orange Knowledge Programme has been awarded to our faculty.

  • The newest edition of the Montesquieu reeks no 12 "Europa, Europa: op weg naar de verkiezingen van mei 2019" ("Europe, Europe: on the way to the May 2019 elections") is out!

  • The book provides a comprehensive legal analysis of power asymmetries that exist between national parliaments in the EU.

  • New book: Bevrijdende en begrenzende soevereiniteit. The book brings together many of the annual conference contributions (both English and Dutch). The contributions focus in particular on the meaning of sovereignty and the relationship between the nation state and the European Union.

  • This information is only available in Dutch.

  • De staf van het Maastrichtse MI zal dit najaar voor de tweede keer de mastercursus Comparative Government verzorgen aan de rechtenfaculteit van de universiteit van Luzern. Deze samenwerking bevalt beide partijen uitstekend en geeft ons kans om onze expertise op het vergelijkende staatsrecht te delen met een grotere groep (internationale) studenten. De docenten die in Luzern zullen doceren zijn Aalt Willem Heringa, Sascha Hardt en Thu Hoai Nguyen.

Montesquieu blogs

  • “Life happens when you are busy making plans”, John Lennon once said. To his chagrin, Boris Johnson, who was counting on winning a third term (despite only being two years into his first), realized that Lennon certainly had a point there. What we witnessed in frenzied television reports from London was both the normality and the abnormality of politics.

  • In the 1980s, in the heyday of Thatcherism, Scottish actor Ian Richardson starred in the leading role of Francis Urquhart in the BBC series House of Cards. In it, Urquhart, who starts out as the Chief Whip for the Conservative government led by Thatcher’s fictional successor, schemes against and manipulates his fellow MPs in order to emerge as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it was this BBC version that provided the blueprint for the eponymous US Netflix drama that was all the rage during the Obama Years.

  • law_johan_thorbecke_blog_maarten_stremler

    Johan Rudolph Thorbecke

    (1798-1872). Dutch liberal statesman. Drafted the 1848 revision of the Dutch Constitution that established the parliamentary system.

More blog items
  • law_montesquieu_blog_aalt_willem_heringa


    Since the educational spaces in our faculty have all been named, we would like to tell about the background of the elected jurists and cases. Through a series of blogs we want to make the names come to life and show that our building houses a legal faculty. After all, not everyone knows all the ins and outs of these persons and cases. What makes them so special? Several colleagues will talk about these individuals and cases in the coming months. In this second edition you can read all about Montesquieu.

  • The recent verdict (“the PSPP judgment”) of the German Federal Constitutional Court (“FCC”) on the compatibility of the Public Sector Purchase Programme (“the Programme”) under the management of the European Central Bank (“ECB”) has attracted plenty of commentary, much of it critical concerning the reasoning of the judgment. The following contribution shall attempt to contextualize the PSPP judgment in the framework of the FCC’s historical jurisprudence and seek to gain an initial understanding whether the judgment does indeed represent a threat to the legal order of the European Union (“EU”).

  • On Tuesday, 7 April the Dutch Eerste Kamer approved an urgent bill digital decision-making for local authorities, de spoedwet digitale besluitvorming. The law ensures that municipal councils, provincial states, water boards as well as island councils will be able to take decisions digitally for as long as they cannot meet during the Corona crisis (it now applies until September, with a possible extension). The law does not, however, provide for possibility of digital decision-making for the national parliament in the Netherlands, i.e. the Tweede Kamer and Eerste Kamer. Both chambers still meet in person, though plenary sessions have been scratched from the agenda save for the most urgent ones relating to Covid-19.

  • The current pandemic caused by the Corona virus has had a decisive impact to all areas of life: from moving school and University education online, to shutting down non-essential businesses while a range of emergency measures were adopted throughout the world for those finding themselves unemployed as a result, to global travel restrictions and the closing of national borders even within the Schengen area, there is hardly any area has not been affected by the outbreak.

  • Monday, 9 March 2020 marked the 100th day in office of the new European Commission under President Von der Leyen. The Commission had promised to deliver a number of priorities set out in the President’s Political Guidelines by this self-imposed deadline – priorities that, however, do not include any clear strategy on how to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Europe.

  • On 1st July 2020 Germany will for the first time in 13 years again take over the rotating six-months Presidency of the Council of the EU – and with the Presidency come high hopes that a Member State with the political weight and capacities such as Germany will be able to significantly push forward the political agenda on EU level.

  • House of cards

    With Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing stiff opposition to his signature Brexit policy, he suffers a momentous defeat in the United Kingdom Supreme Court. How did it happen? What was the reasoning of the judges, and what are the implications of the verdict?

  • Een levende cursus constitutioneel recht en tevens een Shakespeareaans drama of Griekse tragedie. Dat is het schouwspel in het Verenigd (of: Verdeeld) Koninkrijk. 

  • Brexit update blog Prashant 11 April 2019

    Faites vos jeux

    Britain gets a hard-fought extension, with incalculable consequences.

  • Houses of Parliament, London_MLR.jpg

    Change of course?

    With options running out before the United Kingdom faces yet another critical deadline, Prime Minister Theresa May tries one last (desperate) gamble to “save Brexit” – reaching out to the Labour Party. Will it be successful? Which are the options remaining on the table? What could happen next? Here’s a handy guide to the days ahead, in a question-and-answer format.

  • Staying just a little bit longer? Or for good?

    Summary: With the European Council throwing a lifeline to the United Kingdom, all options are back on the table. Rather than taking back control, the United Kingdom now finds itself dependent on the remainder of the European Union – with the absence of professionalism not endearing the British government to its colleagues. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister increasingly looks like a follower of events, not their driver.

    (Picture: Flickr)

  • House of parliament London blog Brexit - 13 march 2019

    Facing reality

    With merely two weeks before the United Kingdom’s scheduled withdrawal from the European Union, Westminster still does not know what it wants and where it wishes to go.

  • The Italian Senate committee tasked with advising the Senate on the lifting of immunities , voted to block an investigation against Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini over his decision to hold over 150 migrants on board a ship for five days. This vote was preceded by an internet consultation called by the 5 Star Movement party leaders through the Movement’s online platform. This episode shows a trend towards an abuse of the tool of direct democracy, which creates a worrisome vulnus to the Italian constitutional set up and the principle of the rule of law.

  • Brexit blog bt Prashant Sabharwal_Law blog update feb19


    In the hour of need, the United Kingdom is saddled with elected officials who fail to match the moment.

  • Not in the mood for a deal: The Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

  • Trump wall - blog Maastricht University

    Emergency for a wall?

    Is it legally possible for Trump to invoke an emergency in order to avoid Congress and obtain the necessary funds to build his wall? Or put differently: is it possible under US law to undo the refusal of Congress to appropriate the necessary funds?

  • Brexit update 21 dec 2018 blog image flag UK

    Week from hell

    Theresa May’s favoured Brexit deal is finished. The question remains when the Prime Minister will finally be prevailed upon to understand this reality – and when Parliament will finally take charge of the process.