A constitution contains the rules by which a country is governed. It covers such matters as the institutions making up the State, the criteria and procedures for membership of those institutions, the layers of government and the powers of each layer, and the rights of citizens.
A written, or codified, constitution is one that is contained in a single document. Such a constitution is usually drawn up after a major event, due to the perceived need for a fresh start. For example, written constitutions were enacted in the United States and Ireland following independence, in Italy and the then West Germany after World War II and the collapse of fascism, and in France after the Algerian war. A constitution that does not consist of a single document is termed an unwritten or uncodified constitution. For example, the British constitution consists of constitutional legislation, historical documents such as the Magna Carta (1215) and the Bill of Rights (1689), and recorded judges' decisions.
A flexible constitution is one that can be amended in the same way as ordinary legislation. A rigid constitution, on the other hand, can only be amended using a special procedure.
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