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in some foreign countries, a special agency whose sole or main function is constitutional supervision.
Unlike ordinary supreme courts, the constitutional court does not belong to the system of courts of general jurisdiction. The members of the constitutional court are either elected by the parliament (the Federal Constitutional Court in the Federal Republic of Germany) or appointed by the head of state (Austria and Cyprus). Sometimes the members of the constitutional court are appointed by the parliament or by other agencies of authority or justice; for example, in Italy an equal number of the members of the constitutional court are appointed by the president, parliament, and judiciary. In addition to carrying out constitutional supervision, the constitutional court has the right to interpret the constitution, decides whether the activities of political parties conform to the constitution, and considers disputes over jurisdiction. In practice, the activity of the constitutional court in contemporary bourgeois states is directed toward adapting the constitution in force to the needs of the ruling class as much as possible.
Constitutional courts exist in two socialist countries, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. In Czechoslovakia there are constitutional courts of the federation as well as of the member Czech and Slovak republics. The members of the courts are elected for seven-year terms by the Federal Assembly of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and by the National Councils of the Czech and Slovak republics, respectively. In Yugoslavia the constitutional court is elected by the Federal Assembly; half the members retire every four years. The members of the constitutional courts of the constituent republics are chosen by the republic assemblies.