POSTS BY Kriszta Kovács

Hungary’s Orbánistan: A Complete Arsenal of Emergency Powers

On 23 March 1933, an act was adopted in Nazi Germany in response to the “crisis” of the Reichstag fire to enable Hitler to issue decrees independently of the Reichstag and the presidency. Article 48 of the constitution of the Weimar Republic made this act possible. Eighty-seven years later, on 23 March 2020, the so-called ‘Enabling Act’ was put before the Hungarian Parliament. This was drafted under emergency constitutional provisions in Articles 48-54.

Continue Reading →

Round Table: An Adept Device for Constitutional Politics

The year 1989 entered history books as the year of the peaceful dismantling of Soviet-type regimes in East-Central Europe. These regimes did not collapse because of classical revolutions; the process ultimately involved round table negotiations between delegates of the undemocratic powerholders and the democratic opposition. Today the people in the Visegrád countries are divided in their opinions regarding the round tables, not least because of the widespread questioning of its achievements.

Continue Reading →

Introduction: Constitutional Resilience and the German Grundgesetz

What lessons does the plight of the Polish and the Hungarian democracy hold for a seemingly stable constitutional state like Germany? How resilient would the German constitutional setup turn out to be in the case of an authoritarian majority taking and successfully holding on to power? What kind of legal or institutional changes may be helpful to make that event less likely and/or less hard to prevent? These were the questions we aimed to address in a debate jointly organized by Verfassungsblog and WZB Center for Global Constitutionalism, generously supported by Stiftung Mercator.

Continue Reading →

Why Do We Need International Legal Standards for Constitutional Referendums?

Important substantive and institutional guarantees ensure the democratic quality of the general elections. In the case of a referendum these substantive and procedural guarantees are almost completely missing. Only international soft law deals with the question of the democratic quality of the referendum. Recent experience with Turkey, Hungary and other places show that this needs to change.

Continue Reading →

Hungary’s Struggle: In a Permanent State of Exception

The Hungarian government has called for a referendum on EU relocation quota plan and declared a “nationwide migrant crisis”. The justification given by the government for these measures was the “massive immigration” which “endangers the jobs of Hungarians and redraws Hungary’s cultural and religious identity”. The argument went that, due to a “migrant crisis” the Hungarian government needed a greater room for maneuvre, not limited by constitutional constraints, in order to manage the crisis. This argument presupposes that, as a result of the migrant crisis, Hungary has ended up in a state of exception, when constitutional guarantees have to be limited or suspended; essential powers have to be concentrated in the hands of the prime minister, until the crisis is overcome.

Continue Reading →