Taking the financial crisis in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, (commonly referred to with the derogatory acronym PIGS), as backdrop to this analysis, the article claims that institutional design in Europe (focusing on Greece and Portugal in particular) has not addressed the state of economic emergency. This gap in institutional design, together with the unpopularity of emergency austerity measures, raises serious doubts concerning their legitimacy and constitutionality.
The article analyses two theoretical responses to this grey area of constitutional legality: the first one construes social unrest in Greece against austerity measures as a legitimate exercise of the right to resistance, entrenched in Art 120 of the Greek Constitution.
The second response selected for analysis is the constitutional review of austerity measures by the Portuguese Constitutional Court, which is presented as a robust example of successful constitutional review.
The article argues that constitutional review with regards to emergency financial measures oscillates between strict adherence to the rule of law and deference to legislative authority in a time of economic crisis, thus raising serious doubts as to its efficiency and persuasiveness. States of economic emergency should be addressed as an urgent matter of institutional design.
© 2017 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston