POSTS BY Kim Lane Scheppele

From Emergency to Disaster

This week, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government put before the Hungarian Parliament two draft laws that, if passed, would end the state of emergency and create a new legal framework for handing the pandemic from here on out.  In doing so, the government was responding to those who criticized the unlimited power that the government had been given in the law creating a pandemic emergency, the Enabling Act of 30 March 2020.  That law allowed the government to override any law by decree, a power that was unlimited in both scope and time and that violated Fidesz’ own “illiberal” constitution the Fundamental Law.  

The new laws are no better, and may even be worse.   One of the draft laws is less than one page long accompanied by two pages of justification.   It purports to repeal the initial Enabling Act (about which, more below).    The other one is called the law on “transitional provisions” and at first it seems only to provide lots of technical answers to questions that arise about how to reset deadlines for various legal processes that were delayed when the economy stopped. The new laws are no better, and may even be worse.

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Orbán is Still the Sole Judge of his Own Law

Our 22 April post on the Verfassungblog about Viktor Orbán’s state of emergency generated a thoughtful reply from Dr. Dániel Karsai, a well-respected Hungarian lawyer. We appreciate the chance to respond to his criticisms, alleging that we made some factual errors about the operation of Hungarian law.

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Don’t Be Fooled by Autocrats!

On 9 April, Vera Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission for values and transparency with lead responsibility for rule of law, gave an interview to Euronews on democracy in the pandemic. A journalist asked whether she believes that Hungary still qualifies as a democracy after the Enabling Act creating an indefinite state of emergency was enacted by the Hungarian Parliament on 30 March. Her answer was not reassuring.

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Corona Constitutional #7: Der Virus und Trump

Kaum ein Land ist zurzeit so hart getroffen von der Corona-Pandemie wie die USA. Ist es Unfähigkeit , dass Trump und die US-Republikaner ihre Möglichkeiten zum Krisenmanagement weitgehend ungenutzt lassen? Oder ist es Strategie? Die Rechtssoziologin und Verfassungsrechtlerin KIM LANE SCHEPPELE kennt sich mit dem autoritären Populismus aus wie kaum sonst jemand, und ihre – ziemlich düstere – Antwort auf diese Frage verrät sie Max Steinbeis in der heutigen Folge unseres Krisenpodcasts.

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Underreaction in a Time of Emergency: America as a Nearly Failed State

Not surprisingly, those of us who write about emergencies have been far more concerned about overreaction than underreaction and we have been far more concerned about politically caused emergencies rather than natural disasters. History is littered with the cautionary tales of overreaction to politically caused emergencies. But the dangers of state failure evident in underreaction are underestimated.

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Open Letter to the President of the European Commission regarding Poland’s “Muzzle Law”

The current procrastination is akin to dereliction of duty: Waiting to bring infringement actions and to fail to simultaneously seek interim measures when the rule of law in a Member State is so obviously and blatantly deteriorating on an industrial scale only means that the Commission faces a far more serious and intractable problem to deal with later.

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Open Letter to the President of the European Commission

Ever since the European Commission initiated a third infringement procedure in respect to the recurrent attacks on the rule of law by Polish authorities last April, the situation has continued to seriously deteriorate. It is now upon the Commission to promptly submit to the European Court of Justice an application for interim measures in the infringement case C-791/19 Commission v Poland now pending before the Court of Justice.

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The Tyranny of Values or the Tyranny of One-Party States?

In his contribution ‘Fundamentals on Defending European Values,’ Armin von Bogdandy counsels caution. His arguments are wise in normal times. But we no longer live in normal times. The current governments of at least two EU Member States, Hungary and Poland, are engaged in normative freelancing with the explicit aim of making future democratic rotation impossible. The rogue governments we see today are undermining the values of the European Union when the EU is more popular in these Member States than their own governments are.

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