What Does the Spring Bring for the Rule of Law in Europe?

The Hungarian minister of justice requested the opinion of the Venice Commission on two bills establishing a new administrative court system in November 2018. Yet, before the Venice Commission got to have its say, the twin laws were adopted in December 2018, with the new courts expected to commence their work in January 2020.

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How to Defend the Integrity of the EP Elections against Authoritarian Member States

The elections to the European Parliament will take place in a few weeks’ time. There is a clear danger that some of the new MEPs will gain their mandates in elections organised by Member States that are not up to democratic standards. The European Parliament should try to defend itself from being infiltrated by MEPs with questionable democratic mandates. It already possesses the competence which is necessary for it, in the form of mandate validation.

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It’s Not Just About CEU: Understanding the Systemic Limitation of Academic Freedom in Hungary

Recently, there have been great disputes about the state of academic freedom in Hungary. As the country moved from democracy to electoral autocracy, its government started to limit individual and institutional academic freedom at a systemic level. This blog entry wants to explain how systemic limitation of academic freedom works in the higher education of the country, and how the general attack against check and balances affect the academic system.

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Systemic Error – On Hungary’s Extension of European Voting Rights to Non-Resident Citizens

Last December, the Hungarian legislator adopted a rule that allows non-EU-resident Hungarian citizens to vote at the European Parliament elections. This rule is in line with a 2018 Council decision. Implementation done, EU conformity secured, nothing to see here. Or is there?

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Fight Fire with Fire – a Plea for EU Information Campaigns in Hungarian and Polish

In the current crisis of democracy in the EU, we should not put too much pressure on the judiciary to fix the rule of law and democracy. Neither should we put too much hope for positive developments on (European) party politics. Rather I suggest that the EU should start speaking directly to the electorate via EU information campaigns in Hungarian and Polish. The 2019 European Parliament elections might provide an adequate framework for such campaigns.

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Of Red Lines and Red Herring: The EPP’s Delusions about Restraining Orbán

This post will offer an overview of the main EPP’s ‘red lines’ since the EPP leadership first demanded from Prime Minister Orbán that he immediately comply with EU laws and EPP values nearly two years ago, in April 2017. We will show that, contrary to Weber’s claims about EPP values being non-negotiable, Orbán has repeatedly crossed the EPP’s supposed red-lines with impunity. And rather than being restrained by the EPP, Orbán has sought to transform it.

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Stop Soros Law Left on the Books – The Return of the “Red Tail”?

On 28 February, Hungary’s Constitutional Court found the so-called Stop Soros legislative package constitutional. Shocking as it may seem at first glance, this case reminds us how difficult it is to evaluate the judgments of a constitutional court operating in an illiberal political regime.

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An Advanced Course in Court Packing: Hungary’s New Law on Administrative Courts

The design and establishment of the new Hungarian administrative judiciary provides insight into a new style of engineering illiberal constitutional democracy through dialogue with European constitutional actors. It is not simply the case that Hungary is undertaking judicial reform while the Article 7 TEU process is on its way. Rather, a new phase of judicial reform is passed under European supervision despite the clear threat it presents for the rule of law.

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The Democratic Backsliding and the European constitutional design in error. When will HOW meet WHY?

When is the constitutional design of any (domestic, international, supranational) polity in error? On the most general level such critical juncture obtains when polity’s founding document (treaty, convention, constitution) protects against the dangers that no longer exist or does not protect against the dangers that were not contemplated by the Founders. While discussion of the evolution of human rights and international actors in response to social change (LGBT, euthanasia, abortion) is well documented, such evolution with regard to political change (transition from one sort of government to another) is less well documented. Constitutions not only constitute but should also protect against de-constitution. For supranational legal order to avoid a deadlock of „being in error” in the above sense, the systemic threats coming from within the polity’s component parts must be recognised and constitutional design be changed accordingly.

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How can a democratic constitution survive an autocratic majority?

Can the democratic constitutions of Hungary and Poland survive an autocratic majority? Hardly. Hungary and Poland seem to be lost for liberal and democratic constitutionalism. At least for the time being, the next question is how democratic constitutionalism can prevent an autocratic majority. The task is to make it difficult for an autocratic parliamentary majority to capture the institutions of critique and control of government and to undermine separation of powers.

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