Legally sophisticated authoritarians: the Hungarian Lex CEU

Contemporary authoritarian leaders understand that in a globalized world the more brutal forms of intimidation are best replaced with more subtle forms of coercion. Therefore, they work in a more ambiguous spectrum that exists between democracy and authoritarianism, and from a distance, many of them look almost democratic. They take advantage of formalistic legal arguments against their enemies. Similarly, the new draft law of the Hungarian government also uses legal tricks to force the Central European University to cease operation in Budapest.

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Presidentialism à la Turka or what? The (missing) logic behind the constitutional amendments

Erdoğan’s efforts to inscribe his understanding of presidential domination into the Turkish constitution should not be mistaken for a systematic turn towards a presidential model of government. The inbuilt inconsistencies of the reform may well develop some serious unintended side effects causing political deadlock and institutional breakdown in the long run.

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Poland and the European Commission, Part II: Hearing the Siren Song of the Rule of Law

As Poland has careened away from the rule of law, the European Commission has struggled to work out its response. Given Europe’s multiple crises at the moment, the internal affairs of a rogue government or two may seem less critical to Europe’s well being than crises that affect multiple states at the same time, like the refugee crisis, the Euro-crisis or the fallout from Brexit. But the proliferation of governments inside the EU that no longer share basic European values undermines the reason for existence of the EU in the first place.

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Turkey’s draft constitutional amendments: harking back to 1876?

In the last month of 2016, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the fourth biggest party, the National Movement Party (MHP) unveiled a controversial new draft constitution which aims at a total system change. Initially, the most striking changes include the strengthening of the presidency with several new powers and no accountability to the judiciary. Furthermore, the way is cleared for Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to rule the country until 2029, and who knows – maybe even longer.

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A Game of Values: Particular National Identities Awaken in Europe

The EU’s legitimacy is thin and this weakness is reflected in its impotence in the face of the drift towards authoritarianism in Central and Eastern Europe. It remains to be seen whether such an authoritarian turn as the Hungarian can happen in old democracies and if their institutions are strong enough to limit the effects of global processes which are shaping the national identities of societies and the impact of Member States on the shared EU framework.

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Italy before the Constitutional Referendum: "I do not see any Armageddon Scenario"

On Sunday, Italy will vote on the largest constitutional reform in recent history. Francesco Clementi, constitutional lawyer from the University of Perugia and one of the staunchest supporters of the reform, answers our questions about what will happen in case of a NO or a YES victory.

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The EU and Poland: Giving up on the Rule of Law?

With an off-hand remark in a Belgian newspaper, President Juncker has called off the EU Commission’s effort to pressure Poland into following the rule of law. If he went through with this, he would not only pull the rug from under his own First Vice President Timmermans and spare the national governments the necessity to live up to their responsibilities. The Commission President deciding that the slide of a member state into authoritarianism is not his business, with a Trump Presidency in the US coming, forgoes the European Union’s claim to be capable of fulfilling its leadership role in the world.

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Der Donald-Test

Nicht nur unser Sicherheitsgefühl hat in den vergangenen Wochen gelitten, sondern auch unsere Zuversicht angesichts der Frage, in wessen Hände die Macht in westlichen Demokratien so alles fallen kann. Vor diesem Erfahrungshintergrund ist es nicht allein unsere Angst, die darüber entscheidet, was wir uns an staatlichen Sicherheitsbefugnissen wünschen. Wir fragen uns auch, oder sollten uns zumindest fragen: würden wir diese Sicherheitsbefugnisse auch, sagen wir, einem Donald Trump geben?

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Für eine Verfassungskrise gibt es keine politische Lösung

Was Polen will, kann die EU-Kommission nicht akzeptieren, und umgekehrt. Nach Wochen des "konstruktiven Dialogs" (Kommissionsvize Frans Timmermans) gibt es immer noch überhaupt kein Zeichen des Aufeinanderzugehens. Ist das schlimm? Im Gegenteil.

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