In the history of constitutional changes in Europe, the making of a new constitution is often linked to violent incidents like a revolution, a coup d'état or a war. That is why the change of the constitution was mostly preceded by a change of the holder of the constituent power. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, however, is currently engaged in a process of constitution making in compliance with the revision procedure established by the existent document. The Constitution of the Grand Duchy, one of the oldest constitutional documents in Europe still in force, is undergoing a far-reaching revision aiming at a general overhaul.1 According to the parliamentary committee in charge, this revision shall finally give birth to a 'new' constitution, meaning that a modified and updated edition of the constitution shall be published in the national official journal (Mémorial). The revised text will then be considered as the Constitution of 2013 or, more likely, of 2014. The Constitution of 1868 is to be repealed. After the previous charters from 1841, 1848 and 1856 and the present text from 1868, it would thus become the fifth constitution of the Grand Duchy. As constitutional history also shows, this would not be the first time that Luxembourg adopts a new constitution following the formal amendment procedure foreseen by the previous document.2 Local politicians and lawyers seem to consider that the academic distinction between 'constitution making' by the will of an original pouvoir constituant and 'constitutional revision' through a parliamentary procedure prescribed by the constitution itself represents rather a gradual difference than a fundamental one.
A number of good reasons convinced the Committee on Institutions and Constitutional Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies to introduce on 21 April 2009 a revision proposal aiming to modify and re-arrange the out-dated Constitution of 1868. While several initiatives for a general revision of the Constitution have been undertaken since the 1970s, none has been successful. Only fractional revisions were adopted in a century and a half. Between 1919 and 2009, no less than thirty-four amendments are listed, the last dating from 12 March 2009. Having occurred at different times and on various aspects, they have certainly undermined the coherence of the initial text. Nonetheless, the Constitution still includes a majority of provisions dating back to its origins.
The main reasons put forward by the drafters of the revision proposal are: first, to modernize a terminology somewhat out-dated; second, to adapt the legal text to the political reality by re-writing the constitution and make it coincide with the 'living constitution' as reflected in the functioning of institutions, and third, to incorporate into the written constitution provisions relating to succession to the throne currently contained in a legal document of uncertain value, namely the Family Compact of the House of Nassau (Nassauischer Erbfolgeverein) of 1783.
Almost four years after its launch, this amendment procedure, still far from being accomplished, is now, in February 2013, in a sufficiently advanced stage to allow some general commentaries. Given the limited format of this country report, the following remarks will focus on a brief presentation of the applicable revision procedure and a provisional scrutiny of some of the most substantial amendments under discussion.European Public Law