Distinguished Panel Discusses Backsliding into Authoritarianism in Hungary and Romania

On 6 November 2013, the Constitutional Transitions & Global and Comparative Law colloquium series hosted a special panel event, featuring four prominent scholars and jurists whose work focuses on Central and Eastern Europe. The event featured Jan-Werner Müller and Kim Lane Scheppele, both of Princeton University, as well as Lech Garlicki and Wojciech Sadurski, both NYU Global Professors of Law and Constitutional Transitions visiting fellows. The wide-ranging discussion focused on recent developments in Hungary and Romania, and the impact that those events could have in the region and for our understanding of democratic transitions. The event also included discussion of potential actions that could be taken by the European Union or opposition parties to address the situation. A video recording of the event is available here.

The panel began with initial remarks by each panelist that elaborated on the constitutional, legal, and structural issues involved in the recent political crises in Hungary and Romania. The panelists took different positions on both the root causes of the crises, and on what should be done in response. In particular, the panelists disagreed on the role played by the Constitutional Court in the political situation in Hungary, with some panelists arguing that Hungary’s very powerful Constitutional Court acted as a positive political influence, while others argued that it was one of the precipitating forces behind the government’s drive to amend the Constitution to consolidate its hold on power.

After these initial remarks, the panel engaged in a lively conversation with the colloquium audience. The discussion touched on whether intervention by the European Union was merited in either Hungary or Romania, what form that intervention should take, and whether recent events indicated a fatal flaw in the constitutional structure of these countries or simply a normal moment in a democratic system.

The following session of the Constitutional Transitions & Global and Comparative Law Colloquium took place on 20 November, featuring Professor Tom Ginsburg of the University of Chicago Law School. More information on that event is available here.


VIDEO: “Backsliding into Authoritarianism in Europe? Reflections on Hungary and Romania”
(6 November 2013)

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